Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Brazilian Fireworks -- Porphyrocoma pohliana

"Brazilian Fireworks -- Porphyrocoma pohliana", drawing
by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2013

Commonly known by a range of names such as Purple Shrimp, Blue Shrimp, Rose Pine Cones, Maracas Brazilian Fireworks or simply, Brazilian Fireworks Plant, Porphyrocoma pohliana is a tropical evergreen plant that is a prolific bloomer in the tropics. It is a member of the Acanthaceae, a family consisting of many ornamental flowering shrubs used widely for landscaping. 

Native to South America, Porphyrocoma pohliana grows as a shrub that can attain a height of about 30 cm. It features very ornamental leaves that are deep green which are adorned with silver veins. The plant also produces extremely showy terminal spikes which are covered with long-lasting deep pinkish-red bracts. The true flowers of Porphyrocoma pohliana are purple in colour and they contrast quite starkly with the overlapping bracts. 

One may wonder why this plant is has the ‘fireworks’ word in its common name. In one of my searches on the Internet, the fireworks part was said to have been derived from two sources. One is the appearance of its deep red flower bracts that develop purple flowers, creating an explosion of color. Second, as flowers fade, it can shoot its small black seeds across the surroundings where it grows. Porphyrocoma pohliana is said to be able to self-seed readily and may, in the proper climate, become a nuisance weed in gardens!

Much of the above information was taken from


Due to continuing health issues, I have decided that at the present time I will only post a new drawing on Wednesdays with perhaps a few news notes that might seem appropriate.  

Sundays will then be the only full posting I will be doing each week. By this I mean that the Sunday posting will include all the various types of photos and information that you are used to reading in my blog posting, including updates on Suki and on Sallie (that's me!).

I am sorry to be unable to continue posting two full columns each week, but it is becoming just a bit overwhelming at this time.  We will just have to see what the future brings.

Thanks for sticking with me and staying interested in my art work and in Suki.

May the peace of God which passes all human understanding keep our hearts and minds always at rest in His love.  Amen. 

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Field of Poppies

"Mother and Son in Field of Poppies", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2013

Whenever I am drawing any mother and child, I can't help but think of it as "Blessed Mother and the Holy Child".  Even when I am trying to draw a portrait of some mother and child known to me, my mind seems to automatically make the switch.  The problem is that by the time I finish the drawing, I am not sure exactly what I have drawn!

This is the case with the recent drawing posted above.  I started out with the thought that this was just going to be a picture of a mother with her son.  She is reclining on a large yard chair which has been placed in a field of poppies.  Her young son is standing beside her in the chair, learning forward to get his well-deserved kiss on the forehead as he gives her the wildflowers he has just picked for her. Her hair is loosely tied back with a scarf and she has a shawl-type blanket thrown loosely around her. Her little boy is dressed in the type of clothes well-to-do male children wore in a bygone era -- perhaps in the late 1800s.

Yet, in spite of knowing from the beginning that this was what I intended to draw, by the time I finished I still felt the need to give them both a nimbus (halo) to indicate that this was no ordinary mother and child!  Perhaps this results from all the past years of working with icons and other types of drawings of our Blessed Mother.  

As you can see, however, I did resist the temptation to "canonize" these two figures and left them just as I had intended -- a mother and her young son having a sweet and special moment in a field of poppies. 




I am really enjoying the photos my friend, Karen, is taking these days out in Vancouver.  She is using her iPad and, in my opinion, is developing quite a good "eye" for interesting scenes.  Of course, Vancouver seems to be having the kind of summer we used to have here in Toronto -- it has been warm and sunny every day now for the past three weeks!  Whether this will continue, I do not know, but I must say that I am really envious -- all those lovely, warm sunny days.  While back here in Toronto,  we are having cooler than usual temperatures and the frequent threat of violent rain storms (as well as actual storms with flooding and high winds).  Ah, well, I guess it is only fair that Vancouver has this kind of summer after so many years of having rainy, cooler weather.  At least all this sunshine has enabled Karen to take lots of interesting photos! 

"Work of Art" in a Park

Here is another unusual "sculpture" in a park-like area.  I am not sure if this is a real
tree trunk with a sculpture inside or if the entire thing is the sculpture.  Whatever the
case, it appears to show a strong man trying to get out or else he is trying to pull
the trunk back together again in order to have a bit more privacy as he seems to
be rather overwhelmingly underdressed!  

Along Vancouver's Sea Wall

Since I have never been to Vancouver, I do not know exactly what the sea wall is like, but it appears to have been used to create a park-like atmosphere all along the waterfront which reveals interesting aspects of summer life in Vancouver.

This young woman probably does not realize what an interesting combination her
black and white striped swim suit makes with the black and white striped shadows
caused by poles in the background.  I can only hope that the wall is more
comfortable than it looks.  I also hope she did not fall asleep as she would end
up with sunburn in some very sensitive places (under her arms for example)!

There seems to be several of these piano set-ups along the sea wall as Karen sent
another photo showing another piano under a shade tree.  She commented in her email
accompanying the photos that these folks seems to be playing something classical.  I
have two concerns when I look at these pianos:  how on earth do they manage to
keep them anywhere close to being in tune and, more importantly, what happens to
them during all those Vancouver days when it rains?  Maybe they only put them
out when the sun is shining!!

This appears to be a photo of a racing crew taking a moment's rest in a cool, shady area.
Even the pillars of the bridge above are painted in shades of blue which would make
the area feel even cooler.  The nice thing about photos like this, to me, is that
I really don't know exactly what is going on and so I can invent all sorts of
scenarios to explain what I am seeing!

Finally, we have a photo of the not so fancy side of the Sea Wall.  Here, in what appears to be a back side of the wall, we see that some homeless person has his (or her) clothing out
in the sunshine for a good airing out.  Speaking from a practical viewpoint, the box is large enough to provide some shelter when the weather is less pleasant than at the moment and the wardrobe can be used to provide a mattress of sorts at bedtime.  No big city, no matter how beautiful its parks may be, is exempt from the poor and the homeless and I speak of them here with the respect that every human being deserves no matter what there state in life may be.

The Wonderful World of Braden

Here is a new photo of dear, sweet Braden.  As he gets older and more easily identifiable,
I become more hesitant to post his photo in my blog.  But some photos are so
adorable that I have a hard time resisting the urge to share them with you.  There
is such a look of quiet curiosity on his face as he attempts to figure out exactly
what is going on here and, perhaps, wonders what will happen if he gives the
ribbon a good, hard tug!

The Wonderful World that Was

This is one of the more well-known photos of Grand Central Station in New York City.  It
was taken in the 1920s long before there were so many tall building built close by.  Here
we can see what the architect(s) originally intended.  The look is one of a civic "cathedral"
created by the beams of sunlight pouring in on both sides at different times of day.  Of course,
these windows still let in sunlight 100 years later, but the sunbeams are much shallower and
certainly do not explode across the floor as they originally did.  This photo demonstrates
so clearly how powerfully dramatic really good black and white photography can be.
(This and other beautiful photos of NYC can be found in "The New York City Historical
Archives" at



Suki's "self-portrait" (with a little
help from me)!
Suki missed the sunshine very much yesterday.  Even though the temperature has been below normal for this time of year, we have had several sunny days in a row recently and so when yesterday was overcast the entire day, Suki was not pleased.  
So, today, apparently in order to make up for yesterday, she has been going from one sunny spot to another as she works diligently at getting her required 16 - 18 hours of sleep per day.

The very best place for sunshine is the bedroom window which faces south and thereby gets sun for almost the entire day.  For this reason, I tend to keep the bedroom blinds always closed in the summertime so that the a/c doesn't have to work quite so hard.  Of course, this means that Suki has to get on the other side of the blinds before she can lie down on the windowsill.  Fortunately, the windowsill is a deep one and so she has plenty of room to stretch out comfortably.

There is only one problem with this arrangement, however, and that is that lying in the sun always seems to make Suki want to give herself a good tongue licking!  There is nothing wrong with her normal desire to be a clean kitty; the problem arises from the fact that her vigourous washing causes the blinds to clack and bang with each new lick!  The noise doesn't seem to bother Suki at all, but I find, after 10 or so minutes of this, that the noise really starts to bother me as I am usually in the bedroom either on my computer or sitting in my big recliner!

I have been known to gently remove a surprised Suki from this window perch and carry her into the living room, placing her on the floor in front of the balcony door where the sun is also streaming in. She usually looks at me questioningly for a couple of moments and then returns to her bathing routine.  I can then return to my place in the bedroom and continue whatever I was doing in a much more peaceful atmosphere.  That is until, give or take 20 minutes or so, Suki decides that she really would prefer to be back on the windowsill!  

I sometimes wonder how many calories I burn each day just lifting and moving this silly cat from one spot to another all in an effort to be able to fully concentrate on whatever I may be trying to do!

Well, 4 1/2 hours have passed since I wrote the previous paragraph. I thought I was just going to take a short break and then finish this posting, but life somehow got in the way.  At any rate, here I am again, determined to finish off this last little section and get this published before bedtime!

There really isn't much else to say.  I saw the sleep specialists on Friday and they asked me to try decreasing a particular medication to a quite considerable degree for the next 10 days.  This is just to determine once and for all that this medication hasn't been the culprit all along.  

As you may recall, I have almost completely stopped taking another medication -- the one that was supposed to be helping to control Restless Leg Syndrome -- as it was thought at the time that it might be the possible cause of the "sleep attacks".  Sadly, the result of that trial has been that the sleep attacks have continued and the RLS has gotten really bad again!  So, while I am willing to give the doctors' plan a try, I must say that I don't hold out a great deal of hope that it will be successful.

I would be truly more than delighted if this should turn out to be the actual culprit, but only time will tell.  Meanwhile, I know that I must continue to try to be extra careful to keep from having another one of those really bad falls.  I don't think my head and neck can take much more of this sort of thing.

Otherwise, I continue to do the best I can:  trying to stay close to the Lord every day, getting to the gym as often as I am able, spending time staying in close touch with all my dear friends and doing as much art work as my eyes can tolerate.  Thanks for all your prayers and please know that I continue to pray for you.

May the Lord bless you and protect you; may the Lord's face shine with joy because of you; may the Lord be gracious unto you and show you His favour and grant you His peace.  Amen.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us -- now and at the hour of our death.  Amen.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Rudbeckia aka Black-Eyed Susans


"Rudbeckia aka Black-Eyed Susan", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2013

Rudbeckia is a plant genus of 23 species in the family Asteraceae. The species are commonly called cone flowers and black-eyed-susans.  All are native to North America and most species are found growing in the great prairie lands where their showy yellow or gold flower heads are evident in abundance.  Many of the species were almost lost to overgrazing and cultivation but have now been restored, through careful land management, to most of their native areas.

Because a large number of the species of Rudbeckia are popular garden flowers, many cultivars of these species have been developed.  Often, many of the cultivars escape back into the wild and then mix with the original native plants.  This leads to a great deal of variation and often a great difficulty in trying to determine exactly what is what when it comes to precise identification.  For example, the ones in the drawing above are drawn exactly as they appeared in a series of photographs taken by a photographer friend. However, when I attempted to identify the exact specie of Rudbeckia, it proved hopeless for an amateur like me.  It seems that the flowers I have drawn are members of the common species, Rudbeckia hirta, but since I am unsure, I am just calling the flowers Rudbeckia and identifying them as black-eyed susans.

The name, Rudbeckia, was given by Carolus Linnaeus* in honor of his teacher at Uppsala University, Professor Olof Rudbeck the Younger (1660-1740), and his father, Professor Olof Rudbeck the Elder (1630-1702), both of whom were botanists. Rudbeckia is one of at least four genera within the flowering plant family Asteraceae whose members are commonly known as cone flowers or black-eyed susans; the other genera are Echinacea, Dracopis and Ratibida.
*Carl Linnaeus was a Swedish botanist, physician and zoologist, who laid the foundations for the modern scheme of binomial nomenclature.  Born 1707, died 1778.


This poorly taken photograph is the result of my efforts to learn how to take photos 
with my new cell phone!  Ah, well, I trust I will get better in time.  
The reason for taking the photo in the first place was so that I could show you a gift I was given earlier this week by a friend who wanted to share with me some of the bounty of her 
garden allotment.  What you are looking at is a vase full of Heliopsis and day lilies.

Heliopsis aka ox-eye or false sunflower. These flowers are a wonderful, summer blooming “daisy” native to grassy prairies of North and South America. They get their name from the Greek sun god, Helios for "sun" and opsis for "appearance . They tend to be bushy plants with triangular leaves and stout stems that carry bright yellow flowers with golden yellow centers. 

 When I, as an untutored amateur botanist, looks at them, right away I would think “oh, here is another variety of black-eyed susans!"  I would be very wrong as they have more in common with sunflowers than they do black-eyed susans!  You can now see why I dropped out of university level botany class after the first few weeks.  My head was spinning in the same way it did when I tried, uselessly, to study trigonometry!



Vancouver art!  I really wonder sometimes at the things that get put in
public areas and parks in cities.  I have three questions when I look at something
like this:  why would an artist work hard at creating this?  why would the City 
use taxpayers money to purchase it?  FINALLY, why would the city fathers (and 
mothers) then see fit to foist it off on the unsuspecting public?

More Vancouver art!  Please see the questions 1, 2 and 3 above.   



Aerial view of the Shrine Church on a day quite unlike today!

Pope Francis as he prays before the image of Our Lady of Aparecida.

I was able to be watching EWTN earlier today when the Holy Father arrived at the Shrine Church for Mass.  The very first thing he did upon entering the Shrine was to go directly to the image of Our Lady of Aparecida (one of Central and South America's "black" Madonnas).  As the pope stood there, it seemed to take only about 30 seconds for him to go from being outwardly involved to being inwardly centered.  He appeared to be able to completely shut out all the activity around him and all the shouts you could still hear from outside of "Papa Francisco, Papa Francisco".

For the next few minutes he stood there apparently focused on Our Lady, perhaps asking her to continue her intercession for the events of World Youth Day.  Whatever his prayer was, he seemed to be completely absorbed in it for those few moments.  Then, he went close to the case housing the image, touched his hand to it and then made the sign of the cross.  After this, he was immediately present again to all those around him.

This, I thought to myself, is what prayer is really meant to be.  That ability to enter quickly into intimate conversation with God whenever the opportunity presents itself.  Just as you would be able to continue a conversation with a dear, dear friend, picking up right where you left off even after a period of separation.
Later in the day, I was looking at some images with quotes related to prayer in my pictures files and came across two that I felt were so appropriate as commentary on what I had witnessed earlier in the day when watching our Holy Father.

This first really says it all: 

While this second image, quoting St. Therese, seems to speak directly to what I had witnessed earlier in the day.

So many times I have heard people say:  "but I don't know how to pray."  I ask them:  "Do you know how to talk to a friend?  Do you know how to really listen to a friend?"

The answer, of course, is always "yes".  I then say:  "Well, allow God to be your very best friend and if you talk to Him like that dearest friend, you will soon find that when you stop talking and really try to listen to Him as you would an intimate friend, you will soon hear Him speaking to you in the depths of your heart."  

Of course, you also need to try to have these conversations in a setting that is conducive to intimate conversation.  If you and a friend want to have a really personal conversation, you usually go somewhere suitable.  In my opinion, the very best place is in front of the Tabernacle in a Catholic Church that is open during the day time -- usually those found in the downtown area of the city.

If you haven't already tried it, give it a try.



Suki taking her turn in the desk chair.
 I have noticed recently that a pretty regular routine has developed with Suki and myself when it comes to chairs.

There are two comfortable chairs in my little office area:  the one at my desk and my recliner nearby.  First thing in the morning after feeding Suki, I get my coffee and come and sit down in my recliner where I can sit comfortably while praying the morning offices (the prayers of the Church).

As soon as Suki has finished her breakfast, here she comes into the area and promptly jumps up into my desk chair.  She spends some times trying to distract me with invitations to scratch her head.  She does this in ways I cannot quite describe in words, but I know what she means and so eventually, I will pull the chair a bit closer to me (it moves easily on its wheels) and scratch her ears while I continue with my morning readings and prayers. 

Eventually, I get tired of doing this and Suki settles down and goes to sleep in the desk chair until she hears me start to get up after about an hour.  As she looks up, I say, "OK Suks, it is time to change chairs."  And so we do.  She jumps up into the recliner while I settle into my desk chair in front of the computer.  I don't stay there for too long as I only want to check my email before going to fix some breakfast.  Usually when I finish with the email and go to the kitchen, Suki stays behind sleeping for a while longer.

This chair exchange seems to happen over and over again throughout the day.  In the evening after I have an early supper and sit down to watch the news, Suki makes her way to the desk chair once again where she stays until I have watched the news for an hour and then we go through the chair exchange once again.  

Right now, for example, I am on the computer and Suki is asleep in the recliner.  When I want to return to the recliner and watch something on TV, we change chairs once again.  

Unfortunately, things don't work quite as well when it comes to bedtime.  Suki may begin the night in her own bed or even on the back of the sofa in the living room, but within a few hours she climbs into bed with me and insists on staying their the remainder of the night.  I have spoken to her about this -- quite sternly at times -- but so far, she just doesn't seem to get it.  Or, perhaps it isn't that she doesn't get it, but rather that she realizes that when I am half asleep, I will allow her to get away with things I wouldn't if I was fully awake.  Smart kitty.

As for me, since there is nothing really new to say and the hour is very late for posting on my blog, I will save any personal comments until Sunday's posting.

May the peace of the Lord be with us all.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

A Healing Moment

"Your Child is Healed, Go in Peace", drawing by
Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2013

I knew I wanted to try to draw this picture from the first time I saw the graphic image in the drawings and photos which are part of my drawing software.  What attracted me immediately was the look of the woman and the posture of the child.  Our Lord is touching the child on the head as He holds the child's limp arm in His other hand.  

After completing this drawing, I almost started to attempt to draw a picture of what I think would have occurred after this healing incident.  I am sure it would show the child on its feet, strong and able-bodied once again with the mother clapping her hands and praising God.  I also think that the child would be holding tightly on to Our Lord's hand as the two of them gazed with love upon one another.  I decided, however, that this was a drawing for another day.  But there is now a clear image of how the drawing should look stored in my memory.

The Gospel reading for this, the 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time, was taken from Luke 10:38-42 where we find the well-known story of our Lord Jesus visiting the home of his friends in Bethany.  
Icon, "Sts. Martha and Mary with Jesus",
by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012

Mary promptly sat herself down on the floor at the feet of Our Lord as any good disciple would while Martha busied herself with preparing food for the guest.  Sadly, she was not able to do this food preparation simply because this was the way she wanted to serve Jesus, no, she was doing it grudgingly as though it was something she HAD to do.  With this attitude, it didn't take long before her anger at feeling she had to work while others were sitting boiled over and she complained to Our Lord, saying: "Lord do you not care that my sister  has left me to do all the work by myself?  Tell her then to help me."  

The Lord, of course, saw the resentment in Martha's heart based on her feeling that she HAD to do these tasks and so he replied: "Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing.  Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her." 

What was the one thing that Martha was missing?  It was the ability to let go of the "must do's", "should have's" and "have to-to-do's" in her life and function, instead, from pure motives.  This is, I think, one of the most difficult things for people, women especially, to do. We are brought up being taught that we must serve -- it is our duty whether we want to or not.  So we do it, but do so very grudgingly and then those bad feelings about what we think we HAVE to do come out so often as misdirected anger at our spouse, our children, our friends.  

How difficult it is to learn to do whatever tasks are set before us as God's loving will for us at that moment in our lives.  Then what needs to be done, will be done and what doesn't need to be done at that moment will wait.  We will then, like Mary, have chosen the better part. 




My friend, Karen, in Vancouver sent this photo of an elegant condo about 7 or 8 blocks
from where she lives.  She said that she liked it so much that she bought one for herself
and one for me!  She has never fibbed to me before so it must be true!!  How exciting
to know that I now have a fancy condo in Vancouver -- perhaps I can spend a few
months there during the winter...that is if I can find some way to pay for the plane fare!


Amid all the many birthday greetings for Nelson Mandela last week on Facebook, there was
this graphic from Walk Free.Org.  This organization often has interesting graphic art regarding several important issues, mainly about ending modern day slavery.  It is worth checking out just to see the graphics.  I felt this particular image was one I wanted to save.

Also on Facebook a few days ago were many images posted by eVena, the special prayer
section of CHALICE (Canada).  They are the organization through which I sponsor most of
my precious girls.  In my opinion, they are the absolute best Catholic organization for
sponsoring children -- truly a low-budget, totally dedicated group of people.  Check them
out at 


These words were at the beginning of an article I recently read online about the Catholic view of marriage as a Sacrament.  If only I had known to look for this in a relationship 
back when I was 21...if only...



Suki has been trying to convince me 
and everyone else that this is her
self portrait which she took, by 
herself, by using the "face-time" 
feature on my iPad.  I know for a fact 
that it came from MS Word clip-art, 
but ever since Suki first saw the
photo, she has claimed it as her own!
Suki allowed me to sleep in until 7:30 this morning!  I am not sure why she did this, but I was grateful.  However, it did little good as I have continued to have sleep episodes off and on throughout the day.  Hopefully, this posting will be completed before I fall asleep again!

But returning to Suki, she has been a reasonably good kitty cat lately.  I always get a bit nervous when she behaves herself for too long as usually a period of good behaviour is followed by a sudden period of misbehaviour!

However, other than claiming to be able to take pictures of herself with my iPad, she is being good.  Of course, perhaps I shouldn't be so quick to doubt her claims of being a photographer as she was able to turn the computer on by herself that night a few years ago when she wanted to get back at me for doing something -- what it was, I don't remember now.  So, maybe, just maybe....  Nope, not possible.  She is smart, but not that smart -- I think!

She hasn't even shown any interest recently in sneaking out into the hallway when I am going in or out of the apartment.  I think this is because even our hallways have been steamy hot during these past days (unlike the apartments, the hallways are not air-conditioned). How lovely it was today to walk out into the hallway and not feel as though you were walking into a sauna.

Of course, she has not liked any of the storms we have had as thunder causes her to run and hide in the closet!  I don't really like these recent storms either as they have been too violent and destructive for many people.  I was grateful that I did not have to go out and push the water off my balcony during the most recent storm -- the rain seemed to be blowing in the opposite direction this time -- thank goodness.

LATER:  I decided to take a break and go to the gym.  Whenever a task starts becoming onerous, I always feel it is time to take a break and do something else for a while.  

Once at the gym and on my bike, I felt much better.  Interestingly, a friend I have made at the gym walked by and seeing me there said, "I thought you would be keeping the Sabbath today!"  I told him that I was.  "On Sundays", I said, "I try to do enjoyable activities that refresh my spirit."  He asked me with surprise, "Do you consider coming to the gym enjoyable?  I consider it more of a task than a pleasure."  "Nope", I replied, "for me it's enjoyable."  

Later, after I had spent about 50 minutes on the bike, was covered in sweat and preparing to continue on to the next phase of my workout, he asked me if I was still enjoying it.  I told him I was enjoying it even more because by now my endorphins ("endogenous morphine") had kicked in.  He told me, with a laugh, that I must have pretty good endorphins!  I thought about his last statement as I continued my workout and said to myself, "thanks, Lord, for those good endorphins!"

Truly, that is how I love to spend my Sundays -- doing that are refresh my spirit and perhaps will be a blessing to others.  Of course, time for the Lord comes first and I love nothing better than being able to receive our Lord, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, in Holy Communion.  That is the absolute best.  Then comes other enjoyable things such as writing this blog posting, visiting with friends in person or on the phone and going to the gym.  These are the things that make my Sundays great.

Otherwise, except for the excessive sleepiness which is continuing in spite of the medication, I am doing fine.  Believe it or not, I am still waiting to hear from one of the specialist involved in my treatment...  It has been a week and a half now since I first began trying to get in touch with them and the problems continue to worsen.  Oh, well, all in God's good time I suppose although I must confess that I do have Our Lady and the saints working overtime in praying for me not to have another bad fall!

Speaking of intercessions, let us pray that we and all our dear ones may know the peace and joy of God in our daily lives.  Amen. 

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Bauhinia tomentosa

"Bauhinia tomentosa -- IsiThibathibana (Zulu)", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2013

Bauhinia tomentosa (Family name : Fabaceae), is a large shrub found mainly in Southern Africa, particularly in an area once known as Zulu Land in what is now South Africa. It is also found in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and tropical Africa and as far as India and Sri Lanka. Its common names include: Yellow Bauhinia (Engish) Bosbeesklou and Geelbeesklou (African) and IsiThibathibana (Zulu). 

It is found growing in woodlands, river bank bush and coastal dune bush. The genus name "Bauhinia" honours herbalist brothers from the 16th century, Johann and Caspar Bauhin.  They were identical twin brothers, making it a very apt name as the two lobes of the leaves, when folded together, are identical.  The specie name "tomentosa" means hairy and it refers to the velvety, hairy seed pods. 

Not much is known about the specific medicinal or cultural uses of this specie of Bauhinia, although it is said to be used widely medicinally.  Since three other species of Bauhinia are also used medicinally for everything from coughs, convulsions and constipation to pneumonia and venereal diseases, it is assumed that this specie has been used for similar remedies. 

This medium to large shrub with its attractive light green two-lobed leaves produces beautiful bright yellow flowers with black to maroon coloured centres during the summer months from December to March. The fruit are pea like, slender and velvety. They are a light shade of yellow-green (as I have tried to show them), turning a pale brown with age and are produced from January to June or even later. The flowers from this tree, rich in pollen and nectar, attract various insects such as butterflies and bees.  In turn these insects will attract insect-eating birds.  Birds and the larvae of certain moth species feed on the flowers. This is also a host plant for many butterfly species, with the larvae feeding on the leaves. 

 Much of the above information was taken from the South African National Biodiversity Institute's plant information website

I understand that the leaves have a nice leathery feel to them.  I find them quite attractive with their double lobes and dark green colour.  These flowers, unfortunately, were difficult for me to show properly in a computer drawing as the flowers do not lend themselves to a simplistic presentation.  Some flowers have a combination of colours combined with unique details which lend themselves to computer art.  Others, like Bauhinia tomentosa are much more difficult with its, basically, one colour other than the maroon-coloured centre which is revealed once the flower opens fully.  

As is so often the case, I am unsatisfied with the results and already thinking of how I might approach another drawing of this same plant.  We will see. 




These first two photos were sent to my by my friend, Sharon who lives just a few floors above me.  

I really think you should give these folks the right-of-way!  Maybe just pull well off the highway 
and enjoy watching them pass by!

This quite incredible flower elephant was with a group of photos supposededly all from Holland - 
however, I really do not know of an area in Holland with this kind of mountain scenery!
Maybe the flowers all came from Holland and this is some other place in Europe.

The following information was part of a pps sent to me by my friend, Hylott, in Birmingham, Alabama

Here it appears that Pope Francis is admiring the newly constructed altar before Mass begins.

Pope Francis at the lectern which I believe was built from the parts of wrecked ships --
one of the ships that sank, perhaps, bringing desperate people from Africa. 



I got the idea for this "drawing" from
one of the cat items on Clip-Art.  It was easy to put
together and then I made a few changes and here we have:
"Suki smiling with great satisfaction!", a "drawing" by
Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2013
Just as I started to write this section, I heard a distant meow!  Shortly thereafter, here comes a rather sleepy looking cat, talking away to herself as she approaches me.  I know what this is all about:  food with maybe just a bit of wanting to know where I am and what I doing!  

Interestingly, I just spoke a few words indicating that I am not yet ready to feed her and somehow it worked.  Off she goes to sit in the window in the sunlight until she hears my chair moving backwards. Then, all the meowing will begin again as she will try to shepherd me towards the kitchen.  

Sometimes I really feel like she must have a bit of sheep dog in her! I have never been "shephered" this way previously by any cat. Suki will actually push me first from one side and then from the other until I am finally in the kitchen.  I have to walk very carefully so that she doesn't trip me. What a cat!  I think after considering all this that I really should be kind and go ahead and feed her.  After all, it really is her lunch time!  Back in a moment.

Well, that moment turned out to be more like 4 hours!  I fed Suki as planned, but then the phone rang.  While I was on the phone in the kitchen, I noticed something I had forgotten to do there.  So I did that and then realized that it was time for me to get ready to go out as I needed to go by the Market and pick up some bread they were holding for me at the bakery.  Plus I needed a couple of other items. 

By the time I got back home, it was time for me to go to the gym (I have to be there by a certain time on Wednesday and Friday as there is a woman who comes to work with a trainer on those two days and she is older than I am and likes to use the same exercise bike that I do -- so, I try to be finished with it before she arrives).   I just read over that previous long and complicated sentence and realized that it doesn't quite make sense.  So let me add to my explanation by pointing out that I like to stay on the bike for at least 50 minutes plus it is the only bike on the ground level and my friend really doesn't do stairs very well either.    

Now, I am back home from the gym, feeling quite refreshed and ready to start fixing supper soon.  Unfortunately, we have an all-members meeting tonight and if you are not attending, you have to call the office and tell them why.  Since I don't have any excuse not to go, I will have to be there for 7 p.m.   I remember folks telling me that I would get bored when I retired with nothing to do!  Yikes! Not true, not true at all.  I think I need a vacation from being retired just so that I can slow down a bit.

I don't think I have anything new to say about health matters.  The same problems persist.  The specialist who should be able to help me seems determined not to get in touch with me in spite of my phone messages, faxes, etc.  Perhaps I will need to go over to the hospital and hunt him down!  Well, I keep reminding myself that the Lord is in charge and is allowing things to be this way for now so I just have to trust that He has everything under control. However, I still might go over and hunt that doctor down anyway!

BTW, I just want everyone to know that Suki received her first fan mail letter today.  I haven't told her about it yet as I don't want her to get herself all puffed up with pride this late in the day!  Soon, I may have to let her start writing her own blog!!

I pray that we all may understand more clearly each day how to trust in God and how to believe in His love for us.  Faith comes as a gift, but it is one that will be given if we sincerely ask for it.  God so very much wants to bless us.  May we let Him do so.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Thinking Ahead -- to Christmas!

"Our Lady in Bethlehem", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2013

I came across the work that suggested the idea of this drawing to me a few months ago.  When I saw it , I thought:  that would make a beautiful Christmas card.  So, I saved it and made a note to myself to come back to the picture closer to Christmas. 

However, the image would not let me alone.  I really felt a strong desire to try my hand at drawing it.  It looked simple enough, but I knew that often the simple looking works turned out to be much more difficult to draw because the lack of complexity means that every mistake is clearly seen.  Plus this picture contains the full face of a baby and babies are very difficult for me to draw.  I always want to give their faces more details than they need and so they end up looking more like 3 years instead of 3 months or 3 days! So, I finally gave into my desire and started working on it.  

The work really possessed me for a while.  I would keep telling myself that I had to stop and get ready for an appointment or stop and make a phone call that really needed to be made or.... the list goes on.  Usually, I would end up working until the last possible moment and then having to rush around trying not to be late for something or having to wonder if I was calling too late or whatever. This happens frequently with me when I am in the middle of a drawing that I am heavily invested in -- both artistically and spiritually.

The drawing above is actually the 2nd version I have of this drawing.  I tried giving it a look to Blessed Mary and the Baby Jesus as though there was only firelight or candlelight for illumination.  I am still undecided about the results of that version.  

Anyway, I plan to use this drawing for my Christmas card of 2013 for sending to all those folks who do not object to cards with a religious tone.  Then, as usual, I will make another card that I can give to those people who strongly object to religiously-themed cards or to those Jewish friends who send me Christmas cards.

I know it seems very early to be starting to think about Christmas art work, but as a matter of fact, I need to get started soon on my Christmas gift calendars -- one of flowers and one of icons or religious drawings of Our Lady --.  Since I not only sell the calendars but also give them as gifts. As you can imagine, there is a lot of work to be done to get them ready. 

So here's a thinking-about-Christmas greeting from me to you!  Maybe it won't be such a bad idea for me to think about Christmas and snow and such as Toronto heads into its next big heat wave!



Why on earth, you may ask, as I showing you a photo of a good-looking scooter.
Well, because this one is special and she goes by the name of Sissy Baby!
This photo was taken by Karen O'Hagan.
My friend, Karen, is one of the most courageous women I know. The events that led to the need for her to use this scooter were the sort that would have left many other people home bound most of the time and always needing home care assistance.  As well, she would probably be using a power wheelchair in which she had to stay all the time instead of using this attractive scooter from which she dismounts whenever she wants to.

Not only has she been courageous in the past, but she continues to take off, on the scooter, on "adventures" that I would never dream of attempting.  She has often told me of trips to various places in Toronto (and now Vancouver) that I would never have dared to try to reach on my own in my wheelchair!  Sometimes she has gotten herself into some difficulty or other, but inevitably, someone comes along at just the right moment to help her out!

At present, she is living in Vancouver, but I am hopeful that she will be moving back to Toronto before too long.  The City is just too quiet without here!  Plus, I miss her. 

Isn't this a truly beautiful photo?  Elephants, IMHO, are truly
magnificent creatures and often appear to be much smarter than humans.
If they ever learn how to be more militant and develop weapons in order
to defend themselves from poachers, watch out world!
This photo was taken by Michael Cooper.

My friend, Michael Cooper, has been to Africa a number of times and always comes back with beautiful photos of wildlife.  He also has lots of interesting stories to tell.  Recently he posted some of his photos on Facebook.  They were all so well executed that at first I couldn't decide which one of them was my favourite.  Finally, I settled on the photo of this single elephant and asked him for permission to post it.  He said yes and so here it is.  Thanks, Michael.

I chose the single elephant photo instead of the group one because it makes it so much easier to focus on all the wonderful elephant-y details which I often miss when looking at a group shot.  However, we all know that when you see one elephant that this means there are bound to be other elephants around as they do like to stay with their families.  


My very good friends and me.  The young lady in the centre was
celebrating her 16th birthday all weekend and chose to go to the
The Old Spaghetti Factory and invite her "Aunt" Sallie along!
Photo taken by a member of the Clifford Family.

Here I am with the parents of the birthday girl -- all of us delightfully full
of pasta!  BTW, we went to lunch on July 1st, Canada Day, which
explains the various shades of red the family is wearing.
Photo taken by a member of the Clifford Family.



This is how Suki looks every time I get up from the computer or from any chair in the place!
I am sure you know what she is thinking -- and, no, it is not anything to do with wanting
to play games or to make certain that I am OK.  She is thinking:  "maybe, maybe it's
food time again"!  What a cat!!

I have just returned from the gym.  I opened the door and here came Suki meowing, begging to be fed.  I checked the food dish in the kitchen when I had placed it just over an hour ago to see what she had done with the food I had given her before leaving.  I found exactly what she has been leaving behind lately:  most of her food still remained in the dish with ALL the gravy licked off of it!

I really don't know how she manages to do this.  How, with that scratchy tongue of hers, she manages to lick off the gravy and leave the food behind is a mystery to me.  But somehow she is able to accomplishes this. 

It is definite, however, that she is back into another phase of gravy eating.  She has done this before and it takes a while for me to get her back to eating normally, but I have always managed to do so. Hopefully, I will be able to do it once again.  

The process involves a lot of complaining from Suki, but she usually gives in after a few days.  My method involves giving her the same food over and over again when she begs until a couple of hours have passed and I throw it out.  She gets nothing else then until it is time for one of her regular meals.  I put down the usual amount of fresh food.  She licks off the gravy and walks away fairly satisfied for the moment.  Of course, a gravy meal doesn't really satisfy your hunger so after a short while, Suki is back again and begging for more food.  Meanwhile, I have carefully retained her half full food dish and have even added just a bit of water to keep it from drying out.  As well, I have covered it with plastic wrap.  So, when she begs, I put her food dish down for her.  She sniffs it, takes a nibble or two and then looks at me with disgust before she starts scratching around the dish as though it were a mess in her litter box!  I take no offense but carefully recover the food until she starts begging again.  Then we repeat the very same process.  

It normally takes a few days before she is willing to ravenously consume the fresh dish of gravy and meat combined -- even licking her dish clean.  Then peace returns to our happy home until she gets the idea to try this gravy only diet again!  As I keep saying, what a cat my Suki is!

 As for me, my problems continue to be medication related.

This time it is much more serious as it has to do with the medication I have been taking these past three months for the still-undiagnosed sleep disorder that I have.  You may recall my telling you that I had started taking a new medication that was supposed to keep me from falling asleep unexpectedly.  When I first began taking it, I was delighted to find that I had up to 6 hours each day when I felt totally and normally awake.  I was able to function without having to constantly ask myself:  "if I fall while I am in this position or doing this particular task, how much damage might I possible do to myself?"  When the medication ceased to work quite as well, I told the specialist and the medication was increased to the maximum. After this, I often had up to 8 hours of normal wakefulness.  How fantastic this was after the past years of one fall after another as I fell asleep inappropriately and unexpectedly time after time.

Well, about two weeks ago, I begin to notice that the medication no longer seemed to be working quite as well.  In fact, with each passing day, it seemed to be less and less effective.  Finally, on Monday of last week, I realized that I was experiencing "sleep attacks" throughout the whole day again.  Although I tried to be careful, I ended up falling twice last week.  Either fall could have left me with serious injuries, but thanks be to my Guardian Angel, both times I ended up not doing anything other than giving myself some ugly bruises and sore areas as reminders of what happened.

I tried to contact the specialist on Friday and although I spoke with the office secretary and arranged with my pharmacist to send information on my medications to his office, I have not hear anything yet.  So, I have spent the weekend trying very hard to monitor myself whenever I am standing as to how I am feeling as I often get a bit of a warning before the sleep attack.  Unfortunately, these warnings are, themselves, very difficult to break free of as it is almost like I am mentally paralyzed.  So, please pray with me that I will hear from the specialist soon and that there will be some action that can be taken to help me once again.

Meanwhile, I have spent a lot of time calling to mind those Scripture passages which speak of trusting God in all things, of God holding me in the palm of His hand, God holding me up with wings like an eagles, etc.  These have been a great comfort in keeping me from just sitting down and giving up!  I constantly remind myself that God is caring for me every moment of every day -- just as He cares for each one of you.  He has loved us into being and will never stop loving us and caring for us so I can trust Him to take care of me.  Have you ever looked up all the references in the Psalms about falling?  Falls are always connected with the promise that God will lift us up again, heal our wounds and keep us from falling so long as we trust Him.  Please pray that I will go on trusting Him no matter what.

Now I will pray for all of you, asking God to bless you and keep you safe from harm so that you may live in peace and joy.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Candy Corn -- Manettia inflata

"Candy Corn Vine (Manettia inflata)", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer
June, 2013

The Candy Corn Plant is in the Rubiaceae family. Although there is no resemblance, it shares this family tree with coffee plants! 

Manettia inflata was formerly known as Manettia luteorubra and is sometimes still listed under that name. This unusual vine is also known by a few other common names: Firecracker Vine, Candy Corn Vine and Brazilian Firecracker.  In some areas, it is known as the Twining Firecracker plant.  Some other plants share some of these same "common" names so look for the botanical name to be sure you're getting information on this particular plant. 

The scarlet flowers are tipped with yellow and resemble lit firecrackers, hence its popular name of "Firecracker." The flowers are somewhat hairy and tubular. Give the Candy Corn Plant enough light and and it will flower from summer through fall. The flowers are nearly an inch (2.5 cm) long and arise from the leaf axils on short stalks. The botanical name epithet inflata means 'swollen'. 

They are native to South America and have spread now throughout the world most often seen as hanging houseplants or trained to climb a trellis in a garden.

I was drawn to these flowers, of course, by their bright colours.  I also like the idea of their being trained to climb a trellis and so I presented them in this manner, also trying to show something of just how leafy a plant it really is.  I must admit that actually what attracted me to them first was the name of Candy Corn.  This was one of my favourite Halloween candies when I was a child!


THE BIG TORONTO RAIN OF JULY 8, 2013 (with lots of thunder and lightning thrown in for good measure!) 

None of the photos below are mine but were taken from local news sites and pictures sent in by viewers.  I have not gotten permission to use them so if any of them suddenly disappear from this posting, you will know that the owners have asked me to remove them.  I am assuming that because so many people are tweeting these photos that there will not be a problem.

City Storm Scenes:

The Don Valley Parkway along side the Don River

Escaping from the flooded highway as the rain subsided for a short time

It makes sense to bring out the canoe when Lower Simcoe Street is full of water!

This looks like a scene from a Hollywood movie, but is an actual couple trying to escape from the rising water at this subway station!

On Tuesday, Toronto's mayor tours some of the worst hit areas -- this is Kipling Subway Station

I really don't think this Dundas bus is going to be able to finish its run!

Are you able to distinguish the make of this stalled car?  
Another watery rescue

Some people will drive through anything to get a cup of Tim's coffee!

Scenes from a GO Train that ended up deeply waterlogged! 

(about 1500 people had to be rescued)

Wait a minute -- boats belong on the water -- what a train doing here?!

This rescue of GO train passengers took quite a while as the boats were small 
and the people numerous 

Throughout the night the boats continue to deliver relieved passengers

Emergency lighting came on as night settled in on the rescue scene

I received a note from Braden's mom soon after the storm had passed and I am including my response so that you can see what I was doing during this incredible downpour -- and how fortunate I was.
"Thanks for your concern. I am doing fine now although last night, during the downpour (or whatever that was!), I was not OK. I was out on my balcony with a big broom sweeping frantically as I tried to keep the water on my balcony from rising about the level of the balcony door into my apartment! I had on my boots so my feet were dry but the rest of me got pretty wet. There are drainage holes on the balcony, but the water was coming down so fast and furiously plus the balconies slope slightly downward towards mine so that I was getting not only the rain but some of the drainage as well. So, I was pushing the water  quickly out through the drainage holes in an effort to keep the water level down on my balcony. Truly this was an extraordinary weather event as I have never had an experience like this before. Sometimes in the past, if the drainage holes on my balcony have been allowed to get plugged up by leaves and debris then the water level can rise on the balcony when it is raining heavily, but usually, thankfully, in such a storm I am at home and keeping an eye on the water level. I can tell immediately if there is blockage as the water does not show any signs of draining away and I just have to go out and poke a wooden pole I keep at hand down through the drainage holes, clearing them of debris and then everything is OK again. But last night was just unbelievable! Thankfully, our neighbourhood did not lose power so I was very fortunate this way as well. All in all, I got off pretty lightly in comparison to people who lost their cars, had flooded basements, ruined freezer contents, etc. I am very grateful."



I have shown you this photo previously of
Suki in her bed in the back of the closet.
This is where Suki was during that
terrible storm.  I knew she was
frightened so I left her alone until
the storm was finally over.

The storm on Monday, July 8th, was terrifying for poor Suki.  She really does not like the sound of thunder or the crackle smell of lightning.   

What made it even worse on Monday night was that I was out on the balcony, frantically sweeping water away which meant the balcony door was open.  The open door meant, of course, that the sounds and smells of the storm were just that much more present.  After about a minute with the door open, Suki headed for the back of the bedroom closet and stayed there until the storm had finally been over for about an hour. 

I think she might have spent the night in there; however, as usual, hunger drove her out.  There she was asking me to please feed her!  Poor Suki, what a night.  I haven't told her that there is a possibility that we could get another bad storm later this evening.  If it happens, I will just make certain that the closet door is open enough so that she can quickly get inside.

I am continuing to do reasonably well.  No news on the medical front -- thanks be to God.  This is an unusual week for me as I have no important doctors' appointments.  

It has been a busy day for me here at home, however, with lots of phone calls and emails, each needing a prompt reply.  As well, I was trying to get started on this blog posting before it got too late.  My efforts to do so did not succeed and so here I am at the supper hour still finishing this posting.  Some days are just like that but that is OK.  Busy or not, in all things I give thanks.

Meanwhile, I am hoping along with everyone else in Toronto that there will not be another torrential downpour tonight!  I do not feel up to spending an hour sweeping off my balcony as the rain pours down!  However, I am sure I will be up to the task should it prove to be necessary.

As this posting comes to an end, I pray that the storms of your life   -- whether interior or exterior -- will find you safely in the Heart of Jesus, our Lord.  Here you can rest in peace and know that the sweet intercession of our Blessed Mother will help you find your way to that love which God alone can give.  Amen.