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.

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