Sunday, 20 April 2014

Easter Sunday, 2014

"Easter Lilies, 2014", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer

Happy Easter to you all.

The regal white lily (Lilium longiforum), a mark of purity and grace throughout the ages, is a fitting symbol of Easter. The genus Lilium includes European and American, Asiatic and Oriental bulbs, but not day lilies, water lilies, canna/calla lilies or lily-of-the-valley. In fact, the Easter lily is more closely related to the tulip and to asparagus than to these other so-called lilies. A list of true lilies includes more than 1,200 species that vary in size, form and colour.  
Easter lilies were native to Ryukyu Islands of southern Japan, as well as the island of Okinawa. In 1819, Easter lilies were introduced in England. In 1853, commercial production of bulbs began in Bermuda. Such a stronghold on the market developed there that the species became known as the Bermuda lily. In 1898, however, an infestation and virus obliterated the Bermuda lily industry. About the same time, lily bulb production began in the southern United States. Japan still produced the lion’s share of bulbs, but during World War II, the U.S. eliminated Easter lily bulb trade with Japan and centred production in the Pacific northwest where it remains to this day. 

“History, mythology, literature, poetry and the world of art are rife with stories and images that speak of the beauty and majesty of these elegant white flowers.” Often called the “white-robed apostles of hope,” lilies were supposedly found in the Garden of Gethsemane after Christ’s agony, growing where the drops of Christ’s bloody sweat fell to the ground in his final hours of sorrow and deep distress. 

Since the beginning of time, lilies have played a significant role in traditional stories concerning motherhood. In the Judeo-Christian tradition, it was said that the lily sprang from the earth in the spots where the repentant tears of Eve fell as she and Adam were sent forth from the Garden of Eden. 

The pure white lily has long been closely associated with the Virgin Mary. In early paintings, the Angel Gabriel is pictured extending to the Virgin Mary a branch of pure white lilies, announcing that she is to be the mother of the Christ Child. In other paintings, saints are pictured bringing vases full of white lilies to Mary and the infant Jesus. St. Joseph is depicted holding a lily-branch in his hand, indicating his own purity. 

Since the earliest days of Christianity, the story has been told that when the Virgin Mary’s tomb was visited three days after her burial, it was found empty save for bunches of majestic white lilies. Early writers and artists made the lily the emblem of the Annunciation as well as the Assumption of Our Lady. 

For almost 100 years now, the Easter lily has been worn at Easter by Irish republicans as mark of commemoration for Irish republican soldiers who died during, or were assassinated after, the 1916 Easter Uprising.

Of particular importance to me, Easter Lilies (as well as day lilies, Tiger lilies and Stargazer lilies) are extremely toxic to cats. All parts of the lily – including the stem, leaves, petals, stamens and pollen – are poisonous to cats. Simply chewing on a leaf or getting pollen on the fur and licking it off is enough to be fatal. Lily poisoning causes acute renal (kidney) failure and death within 3-6 days.   

Much of the above information was taken from the ASK website, including some direct quotes.



Just received a video of Braden a short time ago which shows him hunting for Easter eggs at home.  I captured a picture from the video which explains why it is so grainy -- Braden was really moving quickly about the house as he searched for those eggs! Anyway, you can get some idea of what a big boy he has become.

This hunting of Easter eggs is serious business!

Here is a copy of a poster that I recently made for the Seniors' Group at St. Michael's Cathedral in Toronto.  Any of you who are seniors and live in the area are welcome to attend.

Poster advertising upcoming retreat at St. Michael's Cathedral (St. John's Chapel)
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

As well, I received an email from my friend, Rose Marie, telling me about a course called:  ART 'JOURNAL' ING.  The information reads:  "[It] is an easy way to do small art pieces and chronicle your personal thoughts and/or experiences. Come join our class Mondays 1 to 3 pm at Beaux-Arts Brampton starting April 21st for 6 weeks. Hope you can join us.  For more information go to their website (although it says that the first class was the 14th of April, I understand that the course was delayed a week and so will be starting tomorrow, the 21st): 

This painting by my friend, Rose Marie, of an Arbutus Tree is one of my all-time favourites.

This is the sort of course the younger, healthier, pain-free version of myself would have loved to attend!  So, if you live in the area and are interested, please attend and then let me know how much fun it was!



Suki has started sleeping on the computer!
(drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2014)
Even though she has to suffer some extra pain to achieve her objective, Suki seems to be willing to do so in order to sleep on my laptop computer!

To get to my computer, Suki must first jump from the floor onto the seat of my desk chair. Then, from there, she must jump up onto the desk where the computer sits.  My computer is a laptop and I never turn it off, so it is always warm.  I am sure that it is the heat that now attracts poor Suki to make this painful effort.  It must feel to her like a heating pad for kitty-cats. I, too, know how comforting something warm can feel on arthritic joints!

Of course, I do not approve of Suki sleeping on my laptop since she tends to cause strange things to happen involving my software! Whenever I find her on the computer (and after I gently remove her), there are always messages on the screen asking me if I really want to move this, go there or delete something!  This is not good! If, for example, Suki should move just a certain way in her sleep or press down on a certain key while lying down or getting up, I could have a real mess to clean up.  Yikes, I could even lose some of my art files!!

I thought about sharing my heating pad with her; however, I immediately realized that this was far too dangerous a thing to do. Like any cat, when Suki settles down to sleep, she has to do a bit of "bathing" first and she doesn't hesitate to use her nails when positioning herself to wash the more difficult parts of her anatomy. These nails, even when newly trimmed, are still sharp enough to easily go through the cover on a heating pad and that could lead to

some serious consequences for poor Suki.  She could suddenly get much warmer than she ever intended to!

I have tried explaining to Suki how very unhappy I would be if she accidentally caused me to lose lots of valuable computer files, but, so far, she refuses to understand my legitimate concerns.  I  have even offered to allow her to spend the entire night sleeping on my head (so long as she refrains from trying to wash my hair with her tongue!), but even that hasn't kept her off the computer.  

So, I have decided that I will just have to start shutting the computer down and closing it up for the five or six hours I am able to get some sleep most nights even though this means I will have to re-schedule some of the cleaning and backup software I usually run during that time.  Perhaps, once she finds that the computer is no longer warm, she will decide it is not such a comfortable place to sleep after all!  I can only hope.

As for me, I am much the same.

I had a couple of tests this past week, including the upper endoscopy to see how the ulcers were doing.  Actually, they seem to be healing -- that's the good news.  The bad news is that I have a new ulcer which is not a gastric ulcer but my first duodenal ulcer! The specialist is convinced that if I continue to use the medication he prescribed and watch my diet, things will finally improve even though I will still be taking the anti-inflammatory medications. We'll see if he is right.

I have more appointments with doctors this week and should get the results of my bone density test.  Speaking of which, I was most distressed to learn when I went to take that test this past week that I am no longer 5'10"+ in height; rather, I am now only 5'7"+!!  Of course, part of this decrease in height, I think, is due to the fact that since my neck was broken a few years ago, I am no longer able to hold my head up straight.  Were I still able to fully extend my neck, I think I would be just a bit taller.

My height was always such an issue while I was growing up, especially for my mother.  She wanted all of her daughters to be "southern belles" and how could I possibly be a proper southern belle at 5'101/2" in height?  Unfortunately, there were no serious organized sports for girls in those days in rural Alabama.  If high school girls' basketball had been as serious a sport then as it is now in the States, I might have experienced my height in a much more positive way -- maybe even gotten a basketball scholarship as I was pretty good at making free throws and the occasional jump shot when I bounced the ball around with some of my friends in the gym -- when the boys weren't around, of course!


On this Easter Sunday, I think longingly of the joy it would give me to be able to be at Holy Mass today.

One of the things about the Easter Liturgy that I miss the most is the beginning of the Easter Vigil Mass on Saturday just before midnight. 
The atmosphere in the church is so different: the holy water fonts are drained,  all the lights are out,  the tabernacle is empty – there is no reason to genuflect. How empty and dead it all seems.  

Then, outside the church, the Liturgy begins as a new fire is lit and blessed. 
Next, the Paschal Candle is prepared. As the priest marks the candle, he says: 
Christ yesterday and today, the Beginning and the End, the Alpha and the Omega, all time belongs to Him and all the ages, to Him be glory and power through every age and for ever. Amen
Now the 5 grains of incense are inserted into the candle and the priest says: 
By his holy 
and glorious wounds, 
may Christ the Lord 
guard us 
and protect us. Amen. 

The priest now lights the candle from the new fire, saying: 
May the light of Christ, rising in glory, dispel the darkness of our hearts and minds. 
The candle is then processed through the church, with the deacon lifting the candle at three different times, singing: Lumen Christi (The Light of Christ) and the congregation sings in reply: Deo gratias (Thanks be to God). 
Everyone in the congregation is holding a taper and these are lit from the Easter candle and from one another’s tapers until the whole church is alight and the darkness is dispelled. 
The Paschal candle symbolizes Christ, the Light of the World.

Finally the ancient and beautiful hymn, the Exsultet, is sung by the choir and so ends this symbolic representation of what Easter is all about -- Life unending which death and darkness will never overcome.  
15th Station of the Cross (optional)
"The Resurrection of Our Lord"
drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2010

May the blessings of this Holy Season fill our hearts and minds. Amen.   

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