Sunday, 19 January 2014

In Memory of A Friend

Photo of my friend, Karen, taken in May, 2012
I am sure that most of my regular "followers", family and friends will remember the various photos I have posted over the past couple of years from my dear friend, Karen, out in Vancouver -- especially those showing scenes down by the waterfront.  As well, many of you have noticed the cute comments frequently made by "Anonymous" (aka Karen) in the comments section of each posting -- comments usually regarding my treatment of "poor" Suki!

Sadly, I have to report that Karen passed away, suddenly and unexpectedly, on the 8th of January.  Her family kindly contacted me this past Monday and I have been processing the news ever since.  I still cannot quite get it through my head that there won't be anymore of those wonderfully "smart-aleck" comments appearing after each posting.

I first met Karen soon after she moved into a condo in my neighbourhood some years ago. At first, we were both part of a large group that met every morning at a local coffee shop sharing conversation and many laughs. The years passed and members of the group went their separate ways until Karen and I were the only ones left! We continued to meet every morning (and some afternoons) for coffee and conversation. We shared so many confidences over the years and enjoyed the same sort of humour! 

As you may also recall, Karen “introduced” me to her brother, Duane, (quite a brilliant artist, in my opinion) from whom I was able to purchase some of his art.  Photos of these items were also posted on the blog.  

Karen had a gift of being able to befriend street people and those living on the margins of society in a way that made them feel valued as persons. She was so much at ease with these folks and they seemed to value her friendship as well. When I would meet Karen on occasion in the afternoon for coffee, I never knew who else might be joining us! She also often saw to it that the “down and outers” had a cup of coffee or a muffin, especially on really cold winter days.

Karen decided a few years ago to move out to Vancouver in order to be closer to her family.  I really hated to see her go and, obviously, found that I missed her very much -- she had been a part of my daily life for so many years!  Thankfully, she was able to come back to Toronto for a visit some months ago during which time we were able to meet for long visits over coffee once again.  It was a time of renewing our friendship.  I am so very grateful now for that visit.

Although Karen did not ever mention any religious affiliation, she truly exemplified the meaning of the word “charity” in that sense which Catholics use that word, i.e. the action of showing sincere loving kindness towards others – especially those less fortunate.  

May you rest in peace, dear friend.  My prayers go with you. 



My dear friend, Karen, driving along the street in Vancouver, B.C. this past summer.
This photo, as you may recall, was part of a blog article about the lack of proper "curb cuts"
and other driving difficulties for scooters and wheelchairs in the City of Vancouver.  The entire article was posted, along with this photo (grabbed from a video), in my blog on September 29, 2013.  Photo shows Karen riding her scooter which she had named, affectionately, "Sissy Baby"!


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MOTHER AND CHILD


"A Weekly Ritual -- Mother and Son", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2014 


As I mentioned recently, I have been trying to re-learn all the little I ever knew about perspective and the placement of figures when they are bending over, their their gaze is downward or they are gazing or reaching upwards.

"Presentation of the Jesus in the
Temple"
, icon by the hand of
Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2009
After all these years of drawing mostly icons, I am having to really work on the various techniques used in trying to show figures in a natural manner.  As most of you are aware, icons are not meant to show normal reality -- they are considered to be "windows into things Heavenly -- the things of God".  That is why there are no attempts in icons to show normal shading and shadows or to give any real sense of perspective.  Icons are an attempt to show things which are not of the normal and mundane and so they are drawn unlike what we normally see.  You can easily see what I am talking about in the icon shown above.  As a matter of fact, in this icon, drawn when I was first trying to learn the technique, I have incorrectly shown the platform on which Sts. Simeon and Anna are standing -- the perspective should be the opposite:  narrow at the front, widening as you "look" towards the back of the scene -- the very opposite of what we normally experience when looking into the distance. 

I still have a lot of work to do on my efforts to re-gain the ability to give that sense of depth and perspective that enables us to think that what we are seeing on a flat surface is really three dimensional -- just as we normally view things around us.  Hopefully, you will be patient with me as I attempt to master something at which I have never been very good!

As usual, any helpful comments -- kindly phrased, hopefully -- would be greatly appreciated.


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BRADEN

It is sometimes difficult for me to remember that this is Braden's first winter where he is actually walking around, experiencing the sounds and sensations of boots on snow!  As you can see in the photo below, cold weather doesn't seem to bother him at all.  Not surprising since he is, after all, a Canadian.


Like every Canadian child, Braden must learn to walk while covered in many
layers of clothing.  He certainly appears to have the knack of standing in snow,
but should he happen to fall, all that padding will keep him from feeling a thing!




Waiting for Santa to appear.  Where is the big guy anyway?  Doesn't he know that 
I'm new to all this Santa Claus stuff?  If he doesn't appear soon, I may begin to doubt 
that he even really exists!



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SUKI AND SALLIE


Add caption
Well, Suki has developed something new in her repertoire of strange and unusual behaviours -- she is beginning to talk like a Siamese cat!

I am sure that most of you have been in close proximity to a Siamese cat at some point in your lives.  If so, you know what I mean when I refer to Siamese "talking".  Now, for some unknown reason, Suki has decided that she is part Siamese!  I do not know how this occurred since she has never even met a Siamese cat (or almost any other kind of cat for that matter)! However she managed to learn the Siamese cat language, she is definitely speaking it fluently now.

If I were more skilled at computer things, I would post a video of Suki talking so that you could actually hear her for yourselves. Unfortunately, I don't know how to do that so you will, for the time being, just have to take my word for it.

I think I have mentioned to you previously about how Suki, when she awakens from a nap, has to meow until she finds me.  Only then will she quieten down, settling down to sleep somewhere close by. Until recently, however, she simply meowed in a normal cat fashion while searching for me.  Now, however, she has begun to make that sort of yowl that I assumed could only be made by full-blooded Siamese cat!  Truly, it is a mournful and disturbing sound coming from a cat that is truly just a domestic shorthair, not Siamese.

The "yowling" begins just as soon as Suki awakens from a nap.  She makes this sound all the time she is finding me -- even if I am in the same room and she has been able to see me from the moment she awoke!  My proper response, I have learned, is, immediately upon hearing the first yowl, to begin saying, "I'm here, Suki.  Come on, baby.  Get on my lap.  It's going to be OK."  I am to continue saying variations of the above until she jumps into my lap and settles down for a brief nap.

I have learned through difficult and disturbing experiences that if I do not say such words to her in the proper tone, Suki's yowls will become louder and louder until I am even unable to hear the TV over her cries!  I have never known a cat to do this before -- and I have been acquainted with a great many cats over a lifetime of befriending them.  

I really do need to learn how to post a video to my blog as I simply cannot adequately describe the experience.  Perhaps this will be my next project.  

Meanwhile, I can report that only moments ago I went through the experience described above... Suki had been sleeping soundly in a chair by the front door while I am back in bedroom office.  It is quite a distance from the front door to the back of the apartment and Suki doesn't walk quickly while yowling.  So, it was over a period of about 2 minutes or so that I had to keep saying sweet things to this yowling cat as she got closer and closer.  Since I am busy on the computer at this time, however, I did not allow her to get into my lap.  Instead I scratched her head for a while, still talking to her softly, and then pointed her in the direction of her bed which is where she is now, sound asleep once again.  What a life!!

As for myself, I continue to be about the same as I have been for the past week or so ever since my potassium levels returned to normal.  I continue to have the same problems as usual with nothing new to report.

However, I will be having a number of medical appointments in the weeks ahead so I will keep you informed of anything of import I may learn.  I expect that, as usual, these latest problems will once again be blamed on the chronic pain issues resulting from my broken neck and fractured spine.  I don't hold out much hope that the medical community will be able to make anything better -- but I will, once again, allow them the pleasure of trying!

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So, I come to the end of another Sunday's posting.  My thoughts are full of Karen and other friends who have already passed on from this earthly life.  I do believe that I will see them all again some day. God is love and He has loved each one of us into existence.  Love cannot stop loving -- its very nature is to love -- and so, I believe, we will continue to exist in that Love which is God.  As St. John of the Cross put it so well, "In the evening of life, we will be judged on love alone."  In the end, there is only love.

I pray that we will, in the coming week, daily know that peace which is given by the Spirit -- that peace which always brings with it joy, kindness and love.  Amen.  

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