Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Computer Problems Revisited

"Calla Lily -- Pink on Black", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2013
You have seen this drawing before -- and not even all that long ago!  However, this is not a normal blog posting as it is being laboriously prepared on my iPad.  The drawing is one of the few that is available.  So, I am using it just for decorative purposes as my real purpose is to let you all know that my computer is out of commission AGAIN!

Thus, I am just posting in order to let you all know what is going on and why you may not be receiving a new posting on the usual days for the next little while.

Both Suki and I are OK.  Meanwhile, I will be posting again as soon as I can get this computer fixed!

May God's peace be with you all.

(This also means no email.  If you really want to contact me via email, I can be reached temporarily at [removed].)


Sunday, 26 May 2013

Nouveau Mother and Child

"Our Lady and Her Precious Child", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2013

I remember the first time I saw an Art Nouveau poster.  I was in my high school library looking through the art books when I came across a poster by Mucha [see illus. at end of section].  
I was stunned by the beauty of it and even though it was an advertisement for chocolate, I wanted so much to be able to draw like that.


"Woman with a Vase", oil on
canvas by E. B. Cosby, 1920

Area of the l.r. in my sister's home in Florida
showing our mother's painting before it was stolen!


Actually, I had grown up seeing daily a beautiful oil painting my mother had done in her late teenage years. She was studying art and this was evidently one of the "studies" that she had been required to do as part of her course.  I loved this painting better than all her other paintings and would often stand and stare at it when I was supposed to be vacuuming the floor or dusting the furniture.  

As you can see from the captions, the painting was last seen in my sister's home soon after our mother's death.  Betty had collected all of my mother's paintings in preparation for shipping them to me. Unfortunately, at the same time, my sister and her husband were moving out to the Lake as they had both just retired from their years of teaching at the University so they had been having a number of viewings of their home prior to selling it  During one of those viewings someone walked off with that painting (along with a couple of other things).  All we had left were these two snapshots.

Anyway, back to the current drawing and Art Nouveau.
Sadly, I have never really been able to master the technique -- probably because of my lack of classical art training.  I continue, however, to try to incorporate the style into my work although I usually get carried away and end up including many elements that are completely non-Art Nouveau!

For example, the painting that influenced me when I was working on the drawing featured today was full of long, lovely lines, elegant lilies, pale skin and every item controlled and contained.  Then I went and put in a messy, leafy vine instead of the elegantly curving lilies. As well, because I am so fond of the look of curls escaping when a woman has tried to pull her long hair back neatly, I simply could not resist putting in a few curls which really destroyed the previously sleek, very controlled "Art Nouveau look" of her hair.  

At the end, I was as satisfied with how Our Lady appears as I ever am with anything I draw!  If I did not give myself rules for stopping the work on a piece when I reach a certain point, I would continue to work on it forever.  In the final analysis, I guess I would have to call my style Sarah "Sallie's" Nouveau-er Art!  I hope you like it.

For those of you who may be interested, I have included a brief history of the Art Nouveau school or movement.  It is taken from a longer article by Francoise Aubry, Curator of the Horta Museum, Bruxelles-Brussel.
Nature was one of the fundamental sources of Art Nouveau (or "new style"). The rediscovery of Japanese art in the latter 19th Century led to a new perspective that would wonder at the beauty of a wave, a kimono motif or the curve of a courtesan’s neck. The fluidity of lines, asymmetrical compositions without geometric perspective and delicate shades of colour created a new ornamental vocabulary, freeing itself from historicism, from the grand "carnival of styles" which prevailed for a large part of the 19th Century. 
The languishing and mysterious image of the female which haunted the pre-Raphaelites became a decorative theme adopted in advertising (Mucha’s posters *see below*) before appearing in architecture and the decorative arts in the same way as plants or abstract lines. Art Nouveau has two faces: that of a style appropriate to new ways of life (lighting, hygiene, transport) and that of a quest to embellish daily life (artists trained in the traditional fine arts devoting themselves to the applied arts). The creators pondered the lasting nature of craft production methods as well as the need to provide industry with models of high quality in order to raise the aesthetical level of mass production. Art Nouveau spread quickly throughout Europe thanks to photo-illustrated art magazines as well as international exhibitions.
The name differed according to country, it was called "Modernisme" in Catalonia, "Jugendstil" in Germany, "Liberty" in Italy or "Secession" in Vienna or Prague. The Art Nouveau movement was to develop more quickly in countries or regions which claimed greater cultural autonomy (such as Catalonia, Czechoslovakia and Finland) or those experiencing economic prosperity and distancing themselves from tastes dictated by capitals. The whole of Europe was to adopt Art Nouveau to a greater or lesser extent because the style was able to cohabit with forms inherited from the past. It was more often dominant in new areas constructed to cope with increasing urbanization at the end of the 19th Century. The Art Nouveau fashion was to diminish from 1906, disappearing almost completely during the World War I.
Advertising poster by Alphonse (Alfons) Mucha (1860-1939)
Lithograph, 1897


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SOME BRADEN PHOTOS PREVIOUSLY OVERLOOKED!

While going through my May collection of photos, I came across one I had meant to post, but forgot as well as two other photos which I had cropped with the intention of posting.  Yes, I had forgotten them as well.  I think as we get older our brains just go to sleep in some areas and refuse to wait up until they are good and ready!  Anyway, enjoy....


Recently, Braden wanted to choose which "soother" he would use for the day.  Knowing his impeccable taste, I am sure he chose the blue one as it would best go with his light/dark gray shirt.  Of course, the darker green might make an interesting fashion statement.  I will have to check in with his Mom and find out what he actually did!


Here we see Mr. Braden getting his first lessons in how to drive a small tractor.  This ability will be very useful when his parents decide to get a detached house with a yard.  He should then be well prepared to take on the task of mowing the lawn!  I like how his parents are thinking ahead.


Here we see Master Braden riding on his Dad's shoulders while observing the animals one would normally find in a barn yard.  This also is useful training as Braden will soon be able to take on chores such as feeding the chickens and turkeys should his family decide to move to the country and have a small farm!!  


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THE AIRLINES ARE HIRING YOUNGER PILOTS THESE DAYS AS THERE ARE TOO FEW YOUNG PEOPLE LEARNING HOW TO FLY -- PLANES, THAT IS!


Seriously, this is a photo of my grand-nephew in the States being given the opportunity to sit in the cockpit after the plane had come to a full stop at the terminal.  He had been on a flight with his Mom.  He must have been very pleased to have had the opportunity to pretend for a moment that he was really flying that big jet!
He looks really good, don't you think?  Maybe that is the profession God is calling him to.  Who knows.  All I know is that he is a good kid in every way.



My grand-nephew at the controls of a real jet plane!  



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SUKI AND SALLIE


Did you really have to take another photo of me??
Once again I have awakened Suki while taking photos of her sleeping!  I apologized and told her that I was trying to be very quiet, but that her hearing was just too good.  I somehow don't think she believes me.  Instead I get the feeling that she is of the opinion that I have awakened her on purpose!  What can I say, what can I say?

What I can tell you is that Suki continues to have a problem with throwing up, but it only seems to happen one day a week!  I have called the vet for an appointment, but so far she hasn't called back.  Evidently, at this time of year she is swamped with de-worming dogs or something.  Anyway, I may not need to schedule a visit to my home after all as I am thinking that maybe the day Suki gets sick is on Tuesday.  

Why Tuesday?  Well, Joycelyn always does a major cleaning on Monday morning and although she only uses water and vinegar on the floor, she does use those Lysol wipes on a lot of bathroom surfaces.  Normally that would not be a problem, but recently, I found Suki busily licking the outside of the toilet after Joycelyn left.  She wasn't thirsty as she has plenty of water sitting out in the kitchen.  No, I think she just likes the taste of whatever chemicals are in those wipes.

So, I spoke with Joycelyn about it today and tomorrow she plans to use only water and vinegar on all the surfaces and only use cleaning agents inside of things or on things that Suki cannot reach.  I shall watch carefully and see what happens.  I am hoping, of course, that she will not find anything to lick that could make her ill.  

Of course, she still tries to lick my hair.  At first I thought it was just in order to awaken me so that she could get fed.  However, I am now thinking that maybe she likes the taste of the mousse that I use each time I wash my hair!  What a crazy cat she is -- she doesn't like normal things like fish, but seems to really go for all those chemicals ... I wonder if she experiences them as sweet.  I don't know, but I am now on a campaign to protect her from herself.  If any of you have suggestions regarding these matters, please pass them along.

I saw the surgeon at Mount Sinai on Friday -- the one who has replaced the surgeon who actually performed the surgery on me back last October (as you will recall, that surgeon passed away in January).  He is a young doctor (the older I get the younger they look -- I often feel like asking them if they really are doctors, but I refrain).  At any rate, this doctor was very pleased with the results of the placement of the prostheses in my jaws which are, indeed, working beautifully.  He had the decency to apologize for all the nerve damage I experienced.  Not that it could be helped, he said, but at least he told me he was sorry it had happened!

He approved of all the steps I am taking to try to compensate for the damage, had the nurse take an x-ray and then told me to come back in October!  So that is done and even though I am left with all these issues, I am really grateful that I am still able to eat and talk and use my jaws relatively normally.  Without these new prostheses, I would probably be eating through a straw!

This coming week I will be meeting with the CPAP people regarding the sleeping mask for treating sleep apnea.  Evidently, they will arrange to come into my home and set everything up for me.  This should be very interesting and I cannot wait to see what Suki thinks about all of this!  My only other appointment at this time is one I am looking forward to very much. A dear friend and I  will be meeting at lunchtime on Thursday.

Otherwise, things continue pretty much as usual for which I am filled with gratitude as change becomes more and more difficult as one ages.  I have had enough changes these past months to last me for the remainder of the year!

I pray that God will bless us all and that our Lady will intercede for us all, asking her Son to keep us from all harm and lead us into His peace.

Finally, please rejoice in the Lord with me, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, on this feast day of the Holy Trinity!  Alleluia!

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Unusual Water Lily

"Nymphaea 'Black Princess?", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2013
[The reason for a question mark following the name is I am simply unsure about the identity]

I read once just how many different varieties of Water Lilies there are -- I can't recall the numbers, but there were a huge number of them when all the "cultivars" were added in.  So, it is no wonder that it is so difficult to confirm the identity of a particular plant -- especially when I am not a trained botanist!  

I think this may be a cultivar known as "Black Princess" so I am calling the drawing "Black Princess ?".  I can be certain of the genus, Nymphaea, and of the Family, Nymphaeaceae, but as for the rest....  If any of you know for certain the correct name of this Water Lily, please let me know.  Thanks.


The books say: "An excellent water lily for the smallish pond. With modest growth, it spreads mid-green pads on the water interspersed with deep burgundy, cupped flowers, verging on black in the centre, with the outer petals slightly paler."

Whatever the books say, it is beautiful to look at and a pleasure to try to draw.  I hope my drawing managed to capture just a bit of the intense beauty of the real plant.  It is just one more marvellous example of the incredible complex artistry of our Creator -- an artistry that exists whether anyone even notices it or not.  Amazing!


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BRADEN'S FIRST MAY 2-4 WEEKEND!

This was Braden's first May long weekend and his folks saw to it that he had a great time.  (I think his parents had a good time too, especially Braden's Dad!).  

The weekend got off to an early start for Braden (as you know from my posting this past Sunday) as the family came to visit me on Friday.  As well, Braden got to visit with his grandparents, visit a petting zoo for the first time ever and even spend some quality time playing with what appears to be a "Tintinnabulating Quantum Jump Machine" (to borrow a title from a book by a dear friend)!



Here is a happy Braden in the arms of his Grand-Dad!



Braden's very first encounter ever with a goat!  He has yet to learn what  
goats do with those little protuberances on the top of their heads!



Here Braden works diligently on what I call his "Tintinnabulating Quantum Jump Machine"!! 



And finally, here is a photo of three generations:  Braden, his father (my godson) and me!  
What a happy day that was.



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SUKI AND SALLIE


A look that never bodes well for me or for the furniture!
"Suki in Attack Mode", drawing by
Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2013
Suki, for some unknown reason, spent most of holiday Monday in attack mode!

It started early in the morning while I was trying to pray the Divine Office. I had perched myself in my recliner after getting up, feeding Suki and making myself a coffee.  I had just gotten started praying the Office of Readings when suddenly Suki came flying into the bedroom and leapt onto the bed.  I could see from her ears and posture that she appeared to just be getting started.  I was right.  Next she began to attack the blanket on the foot of my bed.  The next thing I knew she was under the blanket, then the blanket moved and with a flip both Suki and the blanket ended up on the rug!

A very surprised Suki struggled to get herself untangled and was soon sitting there trying to compose herself with a bit of grooming.  Having been completely distracted by this time from my prayers, I couldn't resist suddenly slapping the side of the chair making a loud, unexpected bang in the quiet morning.  As I figured it would, this caused Suki to leap up, instantly alert.  I couldn't help but laugh as I saw that her tail had also suddenly become as bushy as a bottle brush!  I called her name and she raced out of the bedroom as though a pack of hounds was after her.  I heard her sliding across the hardwood floor and the slight noise of tinkling glass as she slid into the base of the table causing the glasses sitting on the glass top to move ever so slightly.

For the next few minutes there was silence and I gladly returned to my prayers.  I  assumed that Suki had played herself out, but, no... suddenly here she comes again.  This time she launched herself onto the window sill where she sat for a minute or two peering through the blinds.  Then the next thing I knew, she had jumped from there back to the bed and started the whole process all over again.

I resigned myself to the possibility of experiencing a very unquiet morning and then went back to the Divine Office, proceeding with the psalms and prayers as best I could.  Well, Suki continued to have these outbursts throughout the rest of the morning and only settled down after I gave her a big lunch.  This seemed to do the trick and finally she and I both settled down for a long nap!

Since Monday, Suki has been her usual self and so things have been much quieter around here except for the three hours yesterday when Joycelyn was here (much to Suki's dismay).  I, on the other hand, was delighted to see Joycelyn again as she has been quite sick for almost a month now with pneumonia.  Thankfully, she is finally doing much better and was able to return to work on Tuesday.  Thankfully, her daughter has been substituting for her during these past weeks.

My health problems continue to be much the same.  I will say that the new puffer seems to be enabling me to breathe a lot more easily -- for which I am very grateful.  I still haven't heard from the respirologist, but I know for certain that she will be in the hospital today and so I am hopeful that she will get my message and finally give me a call.

Otherwise, I have an appointment at Mount Sinai on Friday with the doctor who is replacing the surgeon there who did my TMJ surgery back last October.  My surgeon, as you may recall, turned out to have been suffering from cancer when he performed the surgery on me and ended up passing away this January.  This will be the first time anyone at Mount Sinai has checked the results of my surgery since last November!  

I was supposed to have seen the surgeon who died in February, but, obviously, that was not possible.  I plan to point out several things regarding my previous treatment to this new doctor, as politely as possible of course, when I see him on Friday!!  I am hoping that by speaking up I may be able to keep other people from having to go through some of these same difficulties in the future.


Icon "St. Rita of Cascia" by the hand
of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2013
Today is the feast day of St. Rita of Cascia.  I presented this icon of her much earlier this year.  Remember, she, like St. Jude, is known as the saint of the impossible!  So, don't hesitate to ask her to pray with you for anything you feel the Spirit is leading you to request -- no matter how impossible it may seem.  Evidently, St. Rita's intercessory prayer has been known to accomplish great things in Heaven and on earth.  She was truly always so very close to Our Lord Jesus here on earth and I am sure she continues to stay very close to Him in Heaven.  Dear St. Rita, pray for us.

And may the peace of God be with us all.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Pentecost and The Nursing Mother

Icon "Descent of the Holy Spirit on the Blessed Mother and the Apostles", by the hand
of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2009
First of all, let me wish everyone reading this a blessed and happy Feast of Pentecost -- the birthday of the Church.  I pray that we may all experience a "refreshing in the Spirit" as we finish the Easter Season and enter into so-called "Ordinary" Time.  Not that Ordinary Time is ordinary in the sense we normally use that word, but rather just the regular days of the Church year which, I have found in my own life, to be usually anything but ordinary!

As noted above, the icon was finally finished in 2009.  Since then I have had several people ask me why there is no flame over the head of the Blessed Mother as there is over the heads of the Apostles?  This all has to do with my own personal feeling that since Our Lady was always "full of grace" and the spouse of the Holy Spirit, she, of all those who had gathered at Pentecost, did not need to be "filled" with the Holy Spirit -- she already was!  So, I just wanted you to know that I have my own reasons for not putting a flame there -- it didn't happen just because I am getting older and more forgetful!


"The Nursing Mother", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2013

Since the Pentecost icon is an older one which I have shown to you a number of times, I decided to include a new drawing of Our Lady.  I am not sure that it is really finished yet as I continue to think about the significance of it; however, I did want to go ahead and share it just in case anyone has any comments to make that might help me see what may need to be changed about it.  Thus, I welcome your input and suggestions.  

The idea for this painting came from looking at well-known works by such artists as Leonardo da Vinci.  I realize from looking at various web sites, blogs and Facebook that the subject of this drawing -- Mary breastfeeding -- has been and has become once again a controversial one -- mainly as it has gotten mixed in with the effort to bring breast-feeding out in the open, so to speak.

In the paintings I worked from, the artists showed our Lady quite openly breastfeeding the child Jesus.  I also looked at early icons of Our Lady breastfeeding which usually show her with her breasts practically on her shoulders and looking very unlike normal breasts!  I am really not sure what the attitude was toward such openness during the time that our Lord Jesus was actually a baby; however this behaviour was quite acceptable in European society during the time of such great artists as Rubens, Rembrandt and da Vinci -- much more so than it is today.  

When I was working on this drawing, I had to decide how I would portray the nursing mother.  I thought quite seriously about showing the exposed breast, but then changed my mind the more I thought about it.  It seems to me that in today's culture which is hyper-sexualized to the point that even 12 year old girls are encouraged to dress in a way that borders on the images usually associated with soft porn, a woman's breast is no longer just a breast.  Sadly, such depictions of the Blessed Mother and Child often lead to rude remarks and even sacrilegious comments.  Thus I chose to suggest through the position of the drapery, the baby's mouth and the Blessed Mother's fingers, what was going on.  I hope it comes across to you, the viewer, as I intended.

One additional aspect to mention:  I purposely chose to show both Mother and Child with unfocused eyes in an effort to indicate that they had entered into that inner space which I think is unknown except to nursing mothers and babies.  


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BRADEN COMES TO VISIT

This past Friday I had a wonderful treat -- Braden came to visit me (with his parents, of course).  It was so wonderful to see him again and to see how much he has grown.  He is such a delightful boy!  He is also very happy (unless another new tooth is bothering him too much).  Since he had not even been crawling the last time he was here, I did not think to "child-proof" my place.  This meant that there was a lot of quick movement of every item from the coffee table soon after Braden arrived!  Although he is still not walking freely, he is able to pull himself up and walk by holding onto things.  So, anything within reach is at risk!

Below are some photos taken during the visit.  It was decided to take a few photos of Braden with me.  Because he is such a "wiggle-worm", you can see how much difficulty I had in getting him onto my lap.  He was obviously not going to sit on my lap but I was sure he would be willing to stand.  I was right.  The final photo was taken by Braden's mom on the way home.  He played so hard while he was here that he fell asleep almost immediately after the car started!

One photo we should have gotten but didn't was of Braden looking at Suki.  He was so fascinated with Suki as he had never before been close to an animal that wasn't caged.  Whenever Suki came near, Braden seemed totally caught up in looking and looking and saying words (so far unintelligible) about the situation!  Next time I will make certain that we get a photo of the two of them together.


Here we go!  Braden says "what are you doing with me?"  
I am just trying to hang on to this "wiggle-worm"!




Braden is still not sure what is going on and I am still just trying to get him to stand on my knees!




Success!!  Now Braden is a happy boy and I am a very happy "Auntie Sallie"




Here is Braden once again soon after the car started moving as he and his parents headed home!  He obviously had a good visit with me.




ANOTHER BEAUTIFUL BABY!



Meet "Vanessa", the great-niece of a dear, dear friend of mine.  Vanessa lives in Ireland 
and was born the day before Patrick last year.  So, they will both be 1 year at the end of June!



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SUKI AND SALLIE

Suki looking very interested!
Here is a funny sketch I did of Suki, trying to capture the look she gets on her face when she hears me say:  "Suki, are you hungry?  

She definitely knows what these words mean.  She also knows what "no" means when I say it in a certain tone of voice and if she has been begging, she usually stops at this point.

Anyway, Suki had a busy time on Friday as well.  After Braden left, she crawled into the closet and went to sleep until sometime in the evening.  She did not even awaken at her usual supper time!  Amazingly, she did not seem too disturbed by Braden.  She was cautious around him just as she is around any new person who comes into her space.  However, she let Braden get very close to her.  At one point, Braden's father helped him reach out his hand and rub Suki's head gently.  There were no indications of any sort that Suki was disturbed by this.  So I am very hopeful that the two can develop a happy relationship over time.  Thankfully, at this point, Braden isn't showing any signs of having an allergic reaction to cat dander.

Otherwise Suki has had a fairly quiet week.  I have been gradually cutting back on the amount of food I give her each day and if she is aware of it, she is not saying anything about it so far.  This is in an effort to help her lose just a bit of weight for although she isn't really fat, she is overweight and I know that is not good for her.

As for me, I did not receive the call from the respirologist that I was told to expect either Thursday or Friday.   However, I know how terribly busy these doctors are so I am now hoping to hear from her on Tuesday or Wednesday.  If she still doesn't call then I will have to contact her secretary and get her to remind her.

Otherwise, everything remains the same with me.  Even with my various health issues, I continue to be able to reach out to others by email and by telephone -- still doing a bit of counselling.  I have no new projects underway at the moment although I am thinking about material for a new book -- but that is still just at the thinking stage.

I did receive a request for information from a hospital in the States regarding the icon of St. John of God (where he is holding a sick boy in his arms).  They are building a new wing and are deciding which particular saint it will be dedicated to.  St. John of God is under consideration as a representative for those in need of healing and the deacon in charge of finding appropriate images of the different candidates contacted me regarding the icon.  If St. John of God is chosen, they would like to use the icon for display in some area of the new addition!  I haven't said anything about this previously as I only learned this week that the icon is a serious contender.  So, now I am asking you to please pray with me that if it be God's will, that the image of St. John of God be chosen as I really want to encourage devotion to his intercession after his prayers helped to lead to the cure of all those heart problems I had.

Well, it is almost time for the people to arrive from the Cathedral with Holy Communion on this great Feast Day.  How I wish I could be at Mass today, but I am still not well enough.  Soon, please God, soon.

"Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth."

Virgin Mary, protector of the unborn, pray for all of us, especially for all pregnant women and new mothers.


Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Bougainvillea

"Bougainvillea", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2013

Bougainvillea is a genus of flowering plants native to South America from Brazil west to Peru and south to southern Argentina. Different authors accept between four and 18 species in the genus. As the result of natural mutations and interbreeding, there are now over 300 varieties of Bougainvillea throughout the world. The first European to describe these plants was Philibert Commerçon, a French botanist accompanying French Navy admiral and explorer Louis Antoine de Bougainville during his voyage of circumnavigation, and first published for him by Antoine Laurent de Jussieu in 1789. 

Bougainvillea plants are thorny, woody vines growing anywhere from 1 to 12 metres (3 ft 3 in to 39 ft 4 in) tall, scrambling over other plants with their spiky thorns. They are evergreen where rainfall occurs all year, or deciduous if there is a dry season. You will often hear people describe these plants as having pink, magenta, purple or orange flowers. In truth, the actual flower of almost all the varieties is plain white, small and comes in threes. The colourful “flowers” that most people see are actually bracts. I defined botanical bracts in a previous post a modified or specialized leaf often (but not always) different from foliage leaves. They may be smaller, larger, or of a different color, shape, or texture. Typically, they also look different from the parts of the flower, such as the petals and/or sepals. – usually three to six of them surrounding three white-headed flowers as shown in the drawing above. 

 For the most part, it seems, scientists have discovered little use for the various parts of the Bougainvillea plant although in some countries, such as the Philippines, the plants are used in various folk remedies. There main use seems to be for ornamental purposes such as enhancing parks and people’s gardens. The major complaint regarding this plant is that the bracts are constantly falling to the ground and leaving a “carpet” of pink, purple, red, etc. which can be difficult to clean. Those of us who can travel to the tropics and just enjoy the beauty of the Bougainvillea have it the best of all!



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BRADEN GOES TO A PARTY     


Well, Braden continued his exciting life by attending a birthday party.  He was the only guy there with 3 attractive young ladies!  Being such a cute guy means he is quite comfortable with the situation.  However, things got a lot more exciting than he might have bargained for!!

As best I can learn from reliable sources, this seems to be what happened:  At some point while playing games with his little lady friend (see photo below this one), Braden made a bold move and started trying to remove her shoe.  Apparently, she found this disagreeable and kept trying to get him to stop such forward behaviour!  Eventually, in frustration, I suppose, or maybe playfulness, she pulled his sock off and threw it over her shoulder.  Did this have some special significance for the two of them?  I assume that at this point there might have been some intervention by the chaperons, but I'm not sure.  At any rate, I imagine that by this time, the young lady figured that such behaviour might indicate that he, Braden, really wanted to be her "special" friend (remember, this is the same girl that Braden was with on his "first date" and who had told him to behave himself when he kept trying to kiss her!).

Well, in the nature of human relationships, Braden was later seen at the party with his hand firmly planted in the small of the back of one of the other attractive young ladies present -- a very intimate gesture.  He may have had a bottle or two of juice by this time, but that is still no excuse.  The next thing he knew, his lady friend had burst into tears and, being a man, Braden was totally confused by her behaviour.  I was told that she really started bawling when the song "It's My Party (and I'll cry if I want to)" came on the CD player.  Do you remember the words?  It starts off like this: 
Nobody knows where my Johnny has gone 

Judy left the same time 
Why was he holding her hand 
When he's supposed to be mine
CHORUS 
It's my party, and I'll cry if I want to 
Cry if I want to, cry if I want to 
You would cry too if it happened to you...
Braden is a real sweetheart, but like most guys, he has a lot to learn about women as indicated by the look on his face in the final photo!!



"I'm going to a birthday party!"




"I do hope you like my gift.  I picked it out specially for you."




"Women!  Does anyone understand them?  What should I do now?  
Maybe it's time to leave!  Mommy!"

__________________________________________________


SUKI AND SALLIE


Suki favourite place to sleep after her evening meal
Suki has been giving me some difficult moments lately -- and, as usual, it is all because of her hungry stomach!

One of the funniest happened early Monday morning when I stumbled into the bathroom and begin washing my face.  As I was drying my face, I happened to glance up into the mirror.  For an instant I gazed at myself in absolute confusion, wondering what on earth could  have happened to me during the night.  Then it dawned on me exactly what had happened and it struck me as so funny that I burst into laughter.

What had shocked me was the sight of the hair on one side of my head standing straight up -- I mean straight up.  It was as though I had developed a major "cow lick" while sleeping!  Since I am a person who always sleeps on my back, it took a moment or two to figure out what must have happened.  However, it quickly dawned on me that the cause of this new hair style was none other than Suki, the cat.  
The hair style is similar, but this is
definitely not a drawing of me!
"Cow lick Girl", sketch by
Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2013

I have mentioned to you previously how Suki will sometimes try to groom my hair in an effort to get me to awaken and feed her.  Usually her efforts don't work because the first few licks do awaken me, but then I quickly stick my head under the covers and go back to sleep.  However, I must have been sleepy enough that night that she had been able to lick and groom quite successfully without my even waking up.  The results were truly amazing and quite funny looking.  What even added to my amusement was my idea to use the term "cat lick" rather than "cow lick".  Fortunately, the entire situation was remedied by my morning shower!

As for me, I have spent a lot of time since Monday visiting various doctors and here is my report!

The eye surgeon wants us to continue to allow my eyes to heal as best they can for several more months before we make any decisions regarding further surgery.  One new problem that we've discovered is that my left eye is no longer closing completely -- one of the problems that the surgeon had hoped to repair during surgery.   He has moved the bottom lid as much as he can but still the top lid is not closing properly and there seems to be nothing he can do about it.  So, I am now on a new regimen of coating the eye at night so that the cornea doesn't start to dry out -- which, as you can imagine, would not be good for my eye!

Then the doctor at the sleep disorders clinic is going to try to find some way for me to be able to get this "stay awake" medication covered by my insurance.  She is determined as it seems to be the best choice for me as my body is tolerating it well and it does make a huge difference in my quality of life.  She also wants to get me into the Sunnybrook sleep clinic so that I can have a 24 hour constant monitoring of my sleepiness.  This may take some time so meanwhile I am going to be fitted for this CPAP thing for sleep apnea.  While I am not looking forward to this, I know that it may well be the means for my getting a better night's sleep.

Finally, it seems that my lung function is getting worse rather than better so I have been put on a much stronger puffer.  I am very pleased about this as there have been too many times lately when it has been difficult to breathe properly and this should help a lot.

So, even though there is still a lot to deal with, I am feeling positive because the doctor seems to really care about finding out exactly what is going on with my sleep and helping me to get it under control, if possible.  

So, now you  have it.  The one problem that no one has been able to  really help me with is the restless leg disease.  It continues to worsen.  However, I was informed today that the people at Sunnybrook are also experts in the treatment of restless leg disease -- so, just maybe....  I can always hope.

So, with gratitude to God in my heart in spite of all the difficulties I may face, I just want to encourage us all to keep trusting in the providence of God who loves us more than we can ever imagine. He seeks only what is best for us and that which will lead us eventually to spend eternity with Him -- sharing His love and the love of all our brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ -- the Church Triumphant.  Praised by Jesus Christ for loving us, for saving us and for giving us His own mother to be our mother too.  

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Happy Mother's Day!


Icon "Behold, the Source of all Grace", by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2013

Seeing as this is Mother's Day, I decided to present another icon of our Blessed Mother, Mary.  She is truly the "Mother of all Christians" for she is Theotokos, the Mother of Christ Jesus and we, through Baptism, have been incorporated into the very body of Christ.  As well, Our Lord gave us His mother to be our mother as he was dying on the cross through the words He spoke to John:  "Behold your mother".

I thought I would just talk a bit about the history the images of our Lady.  If you are not that interested, feel free to skip to Braden or Suki.

The earliest representation of the Madonna and Child may be the wall painting in the Catacomb of Priscilla, Rome, in which the seated Madonna suckles the Child, who turns his head to gaze at the spectator. The earliest consistent representations of Mother and Child were developed in the Eastern Empire, where despite an iconoclastic strain in culture that rejected physical representations as "idols", respect for venerated images was expressed in the repetition of a narrow range of highly conventionalized types, the repeated images familiar as icons (Greek "image"). 

In the West, Byzantine models were closely followed in the Early Middle Ages, but with the increased importance of the understanding of the place of Our Lady in Salvation History, images of the Virgin in the 12th and 13th centuries exhibited a wide variety of types developed to satisfy a flood of more intensely personal forms of piety. In the usual Gothic and Renaissance formulas the Virgin Mary sits with the Infant Jesus on her lap, or enfolded in her arms. In earlier representations the Virgin is enthroned, and the Child may be fully aware, raising his hand to offer blessing. In a 15th century Italian variation, a baby John the Baptist looks on. Late Gothic sculptures of the Virgin and Child may show a standing virgin with the child in her arms. Iconography varies between public images and private images supplied on a smaller scale and meant for personal devotion in the chamber: the Virgin suckling the Child, for example, is an image largely confined to private devotional icons. 

There was a great expansion of the Our Lady after the Council of Ephesus in 431, when her status as Theotokos ("God-bearer or Mother of God") was confirmed. This had been a subject of some controversy until then, though mainly for reasons to do with arguments over the nature of Christ. In mosaics in Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome, dating from 432-40, just after the council, she is not yet shown with a halo, and she is also not shown in Nativity scenes at this date, though she is included in the Adoration of the Magi. By the next century the iconic depiction of the Virgin enthroned carrying the infant Christ was established, as in the example from the only group of icons surviving from this period, at Saint Catherine's Monastery, Mount Sinai. This type of depiction, with subtly changing differences of emphasis, has remained the mainstay of depictions of Mary to the present day. The image at Mount Sinai succeeds in combining two aspects of Mary described in the Magnificat, her humility and her exaltation above other humans, and has the Hand of God above, up to which the archangels look.

Icon "Jesus Christ -- a Priest forever", by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2013

As well, I wanted to include a new image of Our Lord since apart from Him neither we or our Lady would have any hope for holiness and eternal life.

This icon is based upon the line from Psalm 110 as the comments on it in the letter to the Hebrews where the Messiah is spoken of as a "priest forever after the order of Melchizedek".


_______________________________________________________________________

BRADEN LEARNING TO BE A COOL GUY

Braden was busy learning about how to pull things apart and then ask his Mom to put them back together!  Wheels seem to have a particular fascination for him.  Suddenly, however, his deep concentration was broken by seeing a pair of sunglasses lying nearby!  Having seen how "cool" guys seem to always be wearing them, he decided to see just how cool he would look if he was wearing them.  So on his face they went.  Not bad, Braden, not bad at all!  Now if you could just ditch that T-shirt (which tells the world what private functions your body is up to), I think the girls would really like the look!


"There are two wheels together here.  I wonder if I can pull them apart?!"




"OK, great.  Now I have just got one wheel left and it doesn't seem to want to come apart.  There must be a lesson here!  Mom, can you put my wheels back together?"




"Well, what is this lying here?  It looks like sunglasses that those teenage guys are always wearing.  Let's see how I look in them.  Hey, Mom, am I cool or what?!!"




___________________________________________________________________________

SUKI AND SALLIE


Suki, always concerned that she might be missing out on
interesting food stuffs, has to carefully investigate my 
breakfast!  Notice her paw is raised just in case my cereal
attacks her!!
Suki continues to have her difficulties getting me trained as regards her food, feeding times, etc. I think she sometimes thinks that I am just not teachable!

Let me just tell you about these past days which have been so difficult for poor Suki.  

Thursday morning Suki kept begging for just a bit more food at breakfast time.  I finally gave in and did what I normally refuse to do:  I gave her a second helping of her favourite "turkey and gravy".  She gobbled this down far too quickly and then went off to nap on the back of the sofa.  I noticed after a while that she seemed unusually still -- as though she wasn't really sleeping but just keeping her eyes closed (she usually moves a lot when she is sleeping as though chasing pigeons or something).  

Suddenly, I saw her leap from the sofa and crouch down on the rug.  Then those familiar noises started -- those noises that everyone who lives with cats hates to hear:  the noises that tell you that the cat is either spitting up a hairball or vomiting.  

At the first sound, I grabbed some paper towels and some wet wipes and so was ready to rescue the rug as soon as she was finished.  Knowing that there is usually a second, smaller episode, I followed her to the hallway rug.  Sure enough, she deposited just a bit more.   Again I was ready.

Once Suki had cleaned herself up and watched me as I went back over the spots with clean wipes, she immediately started asking for food!  I told her "no way, kiddo.  You are on jello and dry toast (translate dry food and water) for the duration.  Suki, of course, did not really believe this and continued to beg until I finally, rudely, removed her bodily from the kitchen.  She seemed confused by this and so waited near the kitchen just in case she had misunderstood my actions.

After a while, when it became evident that I was not going to feed her, she turned her back on me, stuck her tail straight up in the air and walked away with as much dignity as possible.  For the remainder of that day the battle continued and much to Suki's dismay, she did not get any more of her favourite food.  Finally, shortly before my bedtime, I gave her a small amount of the wet food.  I did this as a means to get at least some sleep for I knew that  if I didn't feed her, she might allow me to get to sleep but would start waking me up shortly thereafter.  This way I had the possibility of getting a few hours, at least, of uninterrupted sleep.  And, this is exactly what happened.

The next morning she was given the usual portion of wet food for breakfast and when she begged for more, I gently ushered her out of the kitchen.  So it continued all day Friday and Saturday.  Normally on Sunday, a day that I consider to be a "small" Easter, I usually give her just a bit of extra food when I sit down for my main meal of the day -- a meal that usually includes a few extra treats for me.  I debated about whether to give her anything extra this noon time and finally decided to do so.  She appeared to be extremely happy about this but it did not stop her from begging for more! So far, the extra food has not caused us any problems.  So, whatever caused the episode on Thursday, it no longer seems be a problem!  

As for me, other than the issues associated with Suki, things have been much the same.  There have been a lot of difficult times to get through over these past days, but somehow I have made it.  I had hoped to go to a get-together this afternoon being held at the home of a dear friend; however, I just did not have enough stamina to even try.  As well, I have been struggling with a migraine for the past two days and while it is better, it is still not gone completely.

I am seeing both of the really important doctors this coming week:  the surgeon who worked on my eyes and the doctor at the sleep disorders clinic (which includes the Asthma lab where I have another test scheduled).  I am prepared to do battle with both of these doctors if necessary.  I hope it will not be necessary, but I know I have to advocate for myself or no one will.  So, hopefully by the time I am writing the posting on Wednesday afternoon, I will have some news about the majority of my ongoing problems.

So, as it is getting to be almost supper time on this Mother's Day, I had better go and fix myself something to eat (and feed Suki, of course!).  

Let me finish with a little prayer that Our Blessed Mother will watch over us and intercede for us continually with her Divine Son, Jesus Christ.  

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

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Aeschynanthus radicans or Lipstick Vine

"Aeschynanthus radicans (Lipstick Vine)", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2013

Aeschynanthus radicans or Lipstick Vine/Plant is a vine-like plant native to the humid tropics of the Malay Peninsula south to Java.

This epiphyte (An epiphyte is a plant that grows upon another plant (such as a tree) non-parasitically or sometimes upon some other object (such as a building or a telegraph wire), derives its moisture and nutrients from the air and rain and sometimes from debris accumulating around it.) grows in the angles of branches in the rain forest. As with all epiphytes, the lipstick plant does not live as a parasite on the tree, but takes its nourishment from fallen leaves and twigs that accumulate in the crevices of branches.  

The common name Lipstick plant, shared with other plants of the genus Aeschynanthus (Family: Gesneriaceae), comes from the scarlet flowers that open from buds resembling tubes of lipstick as you can see in the above drawing.  They really do look amazingly like open tubes of lipstick, don't they?!


____________________________________________________________________________

BRADEN THE NEW BATMAN!

It comes as no surprise to me that Braden is already practicing to take over as the new Batman.  After seeing him involved in his workout routine in the last post, we now see him in his Batman uniform working on his eventual response when the Mayor flashes the Bat Signal.  

This new generation of Batman won't be using cars at all as not only are they not "green" but there is just too much traffic these days to ever get anywhere in a car quickly.  Instead, taking his cues from such friends as Spiderman and Superman, he will be learning to fly and to leap from one location to another.  Thus, Braden has started out by practicing on the swings.  This will help him establish a good equilibrium before he actually starts learning to fly! 


"OK, Mom.  I'm ready.  Give me a big push"




"Here I go -- way, way, way up!"




"Way to go, Mom!  Give me another big push!"


________________________________________________________________________

SUKI AND SALLIE


"Suki asleep", sketch by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2013
Well, I thought Suki was actually getting better about the balcony door.  The reason for thinking this was that yesterday evening, even though the balcony door was open, she stayed in "her" chair in the living room which is located near the open balcony door!  

So, early this morning I went over and casually opened the balcony door so that some of the cool morning air could flow in.  Even though it was relatively quiet outside at that moment this seemed to make no difference.  Suki made a beeline for that bedroom closet and stayed there until almost 10:30 (about 3 hours) -- at which time she awoke feeling hungry.  So, as usual, hunger made her brave.

I really was hoping that she had accepted the open door as I may be having a guest for the next week or so.  Some of you may remember my friend, Karen, who moved out to Vancouver (I showed you some of her photos of the blossoming trees recently).  Anyway, Karen is a friend with whom I shared my morning coffee every weekday morning for about 10 years.  She lived in a nearby condo at that time.  When her sister became very ill, she moved out to Vancouver to be closer to her.  Now she is back for a visit after almost two years away.

We went for coffee together yesterday morning.  She was telling me about where she had ended up staying and it did not sound like the best situation to me.  So, I quickly offered her my sofa for as long as she is here.  I am hoping that she will take me up on the offer -- we'll see.  

Why I am telling you all this in relation to Suki may be obvious, but just in case, let me explain.  Karen would be sleeping in the living room and would, no doubt, want the balcony door open for some cool air at night.  This means that Suki will have to go through the entire night in the closet unless she stops acting so silly. Actually, you know, this could be the very way to cure her of her fears!  I will keep you informed!

As for me, I continue doing much the same.  As I mentioned on Sunday, I had an eye exam coming up on Tuesday.  I had this yesterday and need to get new glasses.  Fortunately I have a relatively new pair of glasses which I had to purchase during the time my double vision was at its worst and so the optician will be able to use those frames thus the cost will be kept very low.

One very interesting thing I found out while the optometrist was doing his exam is that my left eyelids are no longer able to close completely!  This is one of the main reasons why I had the surgery in February in the first place and now it seems that the plastic surgery did not "take"!  I knew that something was getting worse as the dry eye problems in that eye have been getting more and more problematic over the past weeks.  I see the plastic surgeon again next week and I wonder what he is going to have to say.  If he tells me that the surgery failed because of my old age, I will be tempted to bop him on the head!  We'll see...(pun intended)!

Otherwise, things have been pretty good -- especially the weather!  I have really enjoyed the warmer weather and am not looking forward to the cool down predicted for the weekend.  However, the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away.  Blessed be the Name of the Lord.

My prayer for all is that the Lord will be gracious to us and grant us His peace.  Amen.

Don't forget to pray the Rosary for the National March for Life starting tomorrow in Ottawa.

Sunday, 5 May 2013

St.Stylianos, Patron of Children, Born and Unborn


Icon "Saint Stylianos", by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2013

Born about 550, Adrianopolis, Paphlagonia
Died Date Unknown, Paphlagonia
Venerated in: Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Eastern Catholic Churches
Feast: November 26
Attributes: Child wrapped in swaddling
Patronage: Children, both born and unborn, and Orphans

Saint Stylianos (Latin: Stylianus, Greek: Στυλιανός, English: Stylian) was born during the 6th century in Adrianopolis in the province of Paphlagonia (in modern day Turkey) into a very wealthy family. At a young age, Stylianos joined the hermits of the desert with a view toward cleansing his soul through a period of meditation and prayer, as well as through association with men likewise pledging their lives to Jesus Christ.
Unlike most other hermits, however, he did not withdraw from society altogether, preferring to go among the people for whatever good he might do, and then returning to his little cave for rest and prayerful meditation.

According to the church tradition, one night while he prayed for guidance in helping others, Stylianos felt a divine presence and was consumed by the great glory of the Holy Spirit, emerging from his cave the next day with a spirit of exultation and serenity he had never known before. In his customary rounds, wherein he counseled and comforted, he felt compelled to place his hand on a stricken child, something he had not up to that time dared to do; he felt the power of the Lord being transferred to the ailing youngster through his extended arm. The child immediately recovered, and thenceforth Stylianos was sought after by every suffering soul for miles around, young and old. His cave became a magnet for the sick and suffering, many of whom received complete cures not only through the power in this man but through their own faith as well.

During this period, Stylianos concerned himself primarily with children, not just the physically afflicted but also with those who were in need of spiritual guidance. Families from all walks of life were said to have entrusted to Stylianos the enlightenment of their children, and he was forced to seek out larger headquarters and to recruit from the ranks of his hermit friends the assistance needed to tend to so many. His was probably the first day-care centre in the world, where mothers could safely leave their children while tending to other matters of the home.

Stylianos was to become the patron saint of children yet to be born, owing to stories of his miraculous intercession for a young woman who helped him with children but could bear none of her own. When the woman conceived, her husband out of sheer joy spread the word of this miracle, and before long many barren women came to the great hermit. Those whose faith in Jesus Christ was genuine became fertile.

The cheerful countenance of Stylianos was his hallmark, because he was reported to always to be smiling. According to oral histories, he was approached by greedy mercenaries with all manner of propositions for commercializing his talents and reaping a tidy fortune, but for these people he always had the same answer: that he had been paid in advance for his services when the serenity of the Holy Spirit came upon him. He would smile as they left. He lived to a ripe old age, and it is said that when he was buried his countenance still beamed with a faint smile from the light of the Lord.
Above information taken from Wikipedia

I only "discovered" St. Stylianos a few months ago and was immediately taken with him when I read about his concern for children, both born and unborn.

This was about the same time I started finding out little bits of information about this Dr. Kermit Gosnell on trial at this time in the U.S.  He has been running an abortion "clinic" for some years now and after years of apparent mistreatment of women and babies, it finally came to light that allegedly he had actually killed a women in a botched abortion and hidden the fact.  

As well, he was known as the person you wanted to go to for a late-term abortion.  According to testimony, huge numbers of live births occurred in this "clinic" and when this happened, the practice was, allegedly, that he and his staff would usually cut the spinal cord of the new born baby or kill it in some other horrible way.  And even more disgusting, evidently Dr. Gosnell kept many of the feet of these babies born live in jars on the shelves of his office.  The details of this case are so distressing that I am not going to tell you anymore of them.  Suffice it to say that finding St. Stylianos at the same time that I first started hearing about this case was, for me, a message from Heaven saying:  Here is a Heavenly friend for you, Sallie, who will gladly intercede on behalf of these poor babies and their mothers and who will even pray for Dr. Gosnell that he, too, may come to understand what he has done and seek forgiveness from our merciful Lord.

At this present moment, the jury is out for deliberation but there should be a verdict soon.  If you are interested in more background on this case, go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kermit_Gosnell 

As for the icon of St. Stylianos, I just need to mention a couple of things.  In many representations of the saint, he is shown smiling.  As I quoted earlier: "The cheerful countenance of Stylianos was his hallmark, because he was reported to always to be smiling."   However, as I was praying about something so dreadful as the Gosnell case while I was working on the icon, I ended up giving the saint a sad expression.  The child in swaddling clothes on his arm could be the Baby Jesus, but is usually considered to simply be a representation of the neediness of young children -- the neediness which first drew the saint to reach out in healing and love to them.

Finally, I want to leave you with this prayer to St. Stylianos:
Holy St. Stylianos, you were a tower and an unshaken pillar of the Church.
Dedicated to God from your youth, you became a dwelling place of the Spirit.
Dear Saint, please pray for us as we, too, seek to follow the path of righteousness.
We particularly ask for your constant intercession on behalf of all pregnant women and their unborn babies – especially those in the last trimester.
Ask God that these mothers will not seek an abortion, but should they do so, please pray for the safety of that baby that it may be allowed to live and given to others to love and raise.
Finally, dear saint, never stop praying that abortion may end throughout the whole earth. Amen.


___________________________________________________________________________

BRADEN AND HIS EXERCISE ROUTINE

As you can see from the photos below, Braden has already developed his first exercise routine.  Like his Dad, he enjoys running.  But, as you can see, he knows he has to do things properly if he wants to stay healthy!

WARM-UP:

Here we see Braden doing his pre-run stretches by sensibly holding onto a convenient fence in order to warm up.  Now all he has to do is learn to walk and run and he will be ready to go!!


COOL DOWN:

Here we see Braden at the beginning of his "cool-down" routine!  Always a good idea to
massage your feet after a run!



As Braden finishes his "cool-down" routine, you can see that he is feeling good!

THE "SHOWER":


Braden is a bit too young yet for an actual shower so he has a bath instead!
Ah, life is good... right, Braden?

____________________________________________________

SUKI AND SALLIE

"Is there some important reason why
you are disturbing me?  Oh, I see,
you think I am in your chair.  No, I
am in my chair.  Yes, I forgive you but
try to see that this doesn't happen again!"
Well, Miss Suki has found a new way to rattle my chain!

As many of you know, Suki will only eat Fancy Feast Turkey with gravy.  She will nibble at her Iams dry food when she is desperate; however, when it comes to her regular meals, I can only serve Turkey WITH gravy.

Last night she started doing something new:  eating only the gravy and leaving most of the meat behind.  Of course, this means that she doesn't really get full when she eats and thus she is begging to eat more often.  I, in turn, keep her unfinished food and keep putting it back down each time she begs to be fed.  The first couple of times I do this, she sniffs it and turns and walks away.  Finally, she is hungry enough to try most anything and so she eats a couple of bites of the food I have saved.  Then she looks at me as though to say "have I eaten enough of this?  now can I now have some more meat with GRAVY?"

Sometimes I give in, sometimes I don't.  And so the battle continues.  Hopefully, she will soon get over this foolishness and return to her normal eating habits.  You know, it is almost as though she just has to do something every so often to see how much she can get away with!

As for me, things continue much the same as they have for these past weeks.  I continue to try to decide what I want to do about this possible surgery at the end of May.  The more I consider it, the more I am inclined to choose not to schedule it.  It has taken me so long to begin to really recover from the October surgery and I am still recovering from the surgery in February.  I just don't think I can face any additional pain and other physical distress leading to increased fatigue.  I may still have the surgery eventually, but I would really like to give my body a chance to recover from all it has gone through these past six months.

This coming week I have an appointment with the optometrist for new glasses.  All this surgery has led to some changes in my vision. I still don't need glasses for general activities, thank goodness.  Otherwise, my week looks pretty quiet at the moment.

In today's Liturgy, we had the reading from St. John's Gospel which contains one of my favourite passages.  In the Holy Thursday discourse, Our Lord says to His apostles:  "Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid."  Jn 14: 27.

This is also my prayer for all of you -- that your hearts will not be troubled or afraid, but will instead be filled with that peace that God alone can give.

St. Stylianos, pray for us.