Sunday, 30 November 2014

Correa backhouseana -- Australian Fuchsia

"Correa backhouseana -- Australian Fuchsia", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2014

Correa backhouseana, commonly known as Australian Fuchsia, is a species of flowering plant in the family Rutaceae. It is a coastal shrub, native to southern Australia. It can grow to between 5 to 6 feet in height. The leaves are wide, glossy dark green on top and pale, grayish-tan underneath. The drooping, tubular flowers are pale (yellow-green to white) in colour. 

The species was first formally described in 1834 by botanist William Jackson Hooker in The Journal of Botany. The type specimen was collected by English botanist and missionary James Backhouse (thus the species name of backhouseana) at Cape Grim in Tasmania in 1833. Three varieties are currently recognized.

Correa backhouseana is a hardy plant that is useful as a screening plant or along fencelines. However, due to destruction of its habitat, it is now on the Victorian Department of Sustainability and Environment's Advisory List of Rare Or Threatened Plants.  

However, C. backhouseana continues to be found in gardens where it tolerates both salt-laden winds and light frost.  Also it is grown in greenhouses as the flowers and leaves are often used in floral arrangements.

I have had this drawing on the go for a number of months now -- I just couldn't seem to get it finished.  Then a couple of weeks ago, I came across it again and the time just felt right.  I got back to work on the drawing and stayed with it, over several days, until it was finished.  

My major complaint about the drawing is my inability, once again, to create "glossiness"!  As the experts say, "the leaves are ... glossy dark green on top".  When, oh, when, will I figure out a way to create "glossiness" in my computer drawings?

Much of the above information was taken from various Internet sources.



Photo update of these two, sweet boys...

Ronàn very much asleep while his hands are busy --
perhaps he's dreaming of directing Beethoven's Ninth!

Braden looking rather pensive -- or is he just trying to decide which truck
car or tractor he is going to play with next?

Brothers -- that says it all



Suki -- Undercover detective!
As I write this, I raise my eyes from the computer screen, look up and what do I see?  

I see two very piercing cat eyes peering at me over the top of my computer screen!

Suki has somehow managed to get herself positioned just behind my laptop as she continues her ongoing campaign to get me to give her an early lunch.  

This is, of course, not going to happen -- a fact of which Suki has been informed several times already; however, hope does seem to spring eternal in her kitty-cat breast.  So the battle of wills continues, as usual.  It's just another ordinary day at my house! 

The problem about all this "laying down the law to Suki" business is this:  I have weakened on a couple of occasions in the past and given in to her demand for an early lunch, supper or whatever. I mean, sometimes she can be such a pest and I really get tired of being bothered.  I know, I know... I am just an old softy. Anyway, Suki, knowing that such a thing has happened in the past, continues to hope that it may happen again in the future -- or right now, to be exact.

However, I continue to try, once again, to steel myself against her purring pleadings for I know what will happen if I give in:  an hour from now, when it is the proper time for her to have lunch, Suki will act as though she hasn't eaten since breakfast.  She will indignantly claim to have no knowledge of any previous feeding and will insist on being fed as usual. She will make such a fuss that I might actually give in and give her just a bit more food!  

Truly, the way she behaves at times such as these always leaves me feeling guilty (for some reason).  Behind Suki's pitiful meows, I somehow feel as though she is threatening to contact the Humane Society and claim that I am refusing to feed her!  What can I do except give in and feed her again? Truly, this cat has got me wrapped around her little paw -- and she knows it!

Otherwise, things continue to be much the same for me.  My days are spent trying to keep the pain at a manageable level through pharmaceuticals and distraction techniques.  Most of the time I am able to manage fairly well although there are some days that are quite horrendous.  Thankfully, I have reached a point in life where little is expected of me (other than catering to the cat) -- thus, leaving me free to do whatever is needed to get through each day.

I did have some extra phone calls this past Thursday as family and friends in the States called to wish me a happy American Thanksgiving.  They know we celebrate a different day in Canada, but for them there is really only one Thanksgiving Day -- the last Thursday in November.  

During the conversation with my family, I was informed about various items on the menu.  How I wish I could have been magically transported as they gathered around the dining table and, thus, join in good conversation while dining on all those delicious southern, Thanksgiving-Day delicacies.  

Speaking of Thanksgiving food, know what I miss the most? I miss the day after Thanksgiving when we would make Turkey sandwiches with lots of cranberry sauce on them!  Yum. 



"Christ: 'I am here at the door' ", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2014 Rev.

Jesus said to his disciples: “Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come. It is like a man traveling abroad. He leaves home and places his servants in charge, each with his own work, and orders the gatekeeper to be on the watch. Watch, therefore; you do not know when the Lord of the house is coming, whether in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning. May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to all: ‘Watch!’ ” Mark 13:33-37 

And so we begin the period of watching and waiting -- Advent -- waiting with Mary and Joseph, as they waited that first Christmas for the birth of the Christ Child.  Watching for the signs of His approach.

Waiting is seldom easy for any of us.  I know that when I desire to have something or know I will be receiving something greatly anticipated, I find it very difficult to wait patiently.  In fact, it is, and has been throughout my lifetime, hard work to discipline myself to wait. Even though I learned years ago that the desiring of something is often so much better than the actual getting of it, I still want to receive it right now!

The story of Christmas, it seems to me, is all about waiting, trustingly and patiently, for the ultimate desire of my heart. What is that desire?  It is the unfulfilled longing for love -- for perfect, unconditional love.  

May we watch and wait trustingly, patiently for the coming of the Child who is Perfect Love.


Sunday, 23 November 2014

St. Ronàn the Silent

"Icon -- St. Ronàn the Silent", by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2014

Today I am featuring an icon that I have been working on for some time now -- actually, ever since I learned that Ronàn might be chosen for one of the names of Braden's new brother.  I decided that I wanted to feature this work today because I have learned over the past few days that dear, little Ronàn is in need of our prayers.  I am not going to try to explain the situation to you at this time, but am simply asking that you please pray for Ronàn's health and well-being and the well-being of his family. 

Now, let me tell you what I have discovered about St. Ronàn of Locronàn or, as I prefer, St. Ronàn the Silent.

While doing my research, I discovered that there were at least twelve Irish/Celtic saints called Ronàn -- a list which includes the following: 
• Saint Ronàn of Ulster who died 11th January 535. 
• Saint Ronàn, first Abbot of Drumshallon in Ireland. He died 8th November 665. 
• Saint Ronàn of Iveagh in Scotland. Feast day is the 22nd May. 
• Saint Ronàn of Lismore. His feast is celebrated on 9 February. 
• Saint Ronàn of Iona. August 18th is the day designated on which to honour him; and finally...
• Saint Ronàn the Silent. He preached throughout Devon/ Cornwall and Brittany. He is venerated particularly in the village of Locronàn in Brittany, which is named after him, and which has his relics. Although not on the official calendar of Saints, St. Ronàn of Locronàn has been venerated on June 1st for centuries.  

Ronán is a Irish-language, masculine, given name meaning "little seal" (Rón meaning "seal", and -án being a diminutive suffix). Legend tells of "seal children" who are warned never to stray too close to the land. For, they are told, if a “seal child” is swept ashore by heavy seas, such a child can become trapped in a human form, known as a “Selkie” (Silkie). If you are interested in finding out more about the legends of such "seal-humans" take a look at the poem/song: “The Great Silkie of Sule Skerry”.  But let's return to St. Ronán.

The Vita S. Ronani,
the life of the saint, was finally written sometime during the 1200s. According to this source, St. Ronàn was born in Ireland in the sixth century of pagan parents. He was well-educated, became a Christian and eventually became a bishop. His good works as a bishop brought him great renown in Ireland; however, he longed to have a quieter, more hidden life which, he hoped, would lead him to closer communion with God. So at the height of his career, he chose voluntary exile; severing all ties with kin and country and embarking on a voyage to Brittany. 

Having landed "in the region of Léon", St. Ronàn continued his journey southwards to the kingdom of Cornouaille (Latin Cornubia) and set up a hermitage at what would become known as Locronàn (the place of Ronàn). Here he devoted himself to prayer and an ascetic way of life. Even though he tried to live a hidden life, he soon attracted a multitude of admirers from the region who gradually formed a religious community around him. The hours that St. Ronàn spent in silent prayer and contemplation led to his name of Ronàn the Silent.  Eventually, St. Ronàn died in his cell surrounded by his community. 

The second part of the Vita S. Ronani focuses on events after St. Ronàn's death -- the miracles attributed to his intercession, the growth of his cult and the fate of his relics.  The first reported miracle following his death came about due to a dispute over where the saint should be buried. After asking the saint for guidance, a couple of oxen led the people to a burial spot, indicating that this was where St. Ronàn desired to be buried. Once the body was placed at this site, healings and miracles of all sorts begin to occur and the cult of St. Ronàn grew

To this very day in Locronàn (Cornwall) Brittany, St. Ronàn's feast day is the subject of an annual pilgrimage and celebration known, locally, as the "Forgiveness" of St. Ronàn.

St. Ronàn, pray for us.  

Much of the above  information was taken from various Internet sources.



Ronàn ready for his 3 a.m. feeding!

Brothers -- Ronàn and Braden

Dad is up early!



"There had better be a good reason for waking me!"
Well, after a couple of weeks of allowing me to "sleep in" until between 5:30 - 5:45 in the morning, Suki has gone back to her old ways of trying to awaken me when she first feels those hunger pangs -- around 5 a.m.! 

 Of course, it may not be entirely her fault. After all, I was the one who placed temptation in her way and so I guess I must accept some responsibility. However, it seems to me that just because someone is tempted, it doesn't necessarily follow that they have to give in to that temptation. But, then, we all know what Suki is like! Let me explain... 

 Due to the fact that the weather has now turned so cold, I felt I could no longer leave the blinds, covering the balcony door, tied back at night. You may recall that I had originally tied them back so that Suki would not be able to rattle them, noisily, whenever she felt it was time for me to get up in the morning and feed her. I mean -- even I can't sleep with the Venetian blinds clacking together, over and over again! 

 Thus, earlier this past week, I left the blinds untied at bedtime so that the balcony door was covered. The result of doing this was that a good amount of cold air was no longer able to "draft" into the apartment during the night which meant that I didn't have to have the thermostat up quite so high in order to remain comfortable while I was sleeping. 

 The first night the blinds were untied, Suki did not seem to notice -- maybe she was just so used to them being unavailable that she simply paid no attention. However, by the second night, she had quite obviously become aware that the blinds were no longer tied back as evidenced by her attempt on Wednesday morning to awaken me about 4:45 by pushing those blessed blinds back and forth so that they made that annoying clackety-clack sound! 

I cannot post what I said to Suki when I was jerked awake by this most unpleasant noise. Let's just say that my comments included lots of rude words -- the kind they still bleep out in TV programs! Anyway, as any of my faithful Suki followers know, yelling at Suki has no effect other than to, perhaps, make me feel a bit better for a moment or two. 

 So, I did what was required -- I got up, grabbed the cat, shut her up in the bathroom, turned on the Baroque music channel on the TV (to muffle the sounds of Suki meowing) and painfully crawled back into bed. Of course, by this time I was too wide awake to go back to sleep so, instead, I just lay there for a while, trying to let the sounds of Vivaldi and friends soothe my troubled mind. After a while, I gave in, got up, released poor Suki from her "prison" and let her lead me to the kitchen where her food was waiting to be prepared. 

Since then, I have once more been tying the blinds back at bedtime; however, I am also turning down the thermostat so that it doesn't try to heat up the place during the night and simply adding an extra heavy blanket to my bedclothes. When I awaken now, I feel rather like I am back on the farm -- all warm under a pile of blankets except for my cold nose and a purring kitty cat under the blankets with me. Maybe this was her plan all along! 

As for my other concerns, I remain much the same. I did have a medical visit this past week -- a follow-up appointment at Mt. Sinai Hospital regarding my TMJ replacements. It was such a waste of time. Not only did I have to endure terrible pain as they tried to push my twisted neck and back into position for a panoramic x-ray, but then they charged me $80 for the privilege! I have no plans to ever return to that doctor again. 

 BTW, just a note to those of you on my Christmas calendar list -- you know who you are. Please let me know if you would be willing to receive a desk calendar this year rather than a wall one. Thanks.



"Icon--Christ the King", by the  hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2014

Jesus said to his disciples: 'When the Son of Man comes in his glory, escorted by all the angels, then he will take his seat on his throne of glory. All the nations will be assembled before him and he will separate people one from another as the shepherd separates sheep from goats. He will place the sheep on his right hand and the goats on his left. Then the King will say to those on his right hand, “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world."     Matt. 25:31-46 [only 31- 34 posted above] 

This is the beginning of the passage that speaks about the sheep being those who, having fed the hungry, clothed the naked etc. during their lifetimes, will now realize that in doing this for others, they really did it to Christ -- whether they knew it or not! Since most of us do kind things for others during our lives -- regardless of our motives -- I think we can take comfort in knowing that He sees it as though we "[are doing] it for Him".

It seems to me, then, that only those who have knowingly shut themselves off from love and loving would be excluded from the sheep and included with the goats.   

Of course, I ask myself, then, if there are really any such people who don't, deep down, desire to be loved.  It seems almost impossible to me that there would be. Wouldn't even the worst of people, once you have stripped away the surface anger, hatred and the desperate need to control, reveal, underneath it all, a small, frightened child yearning to be loved and accepted?  Perhaps not, but I, personally, cannot imagine it -- maybe because I see that small, frightened child so clearly within myself.

And, so I pray that we may all continue to try to love our neighbours as ourselves so that we, too, may some day hear the words: "Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these..., you did it to me. Come, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world."

Grant us the grace to be kind.


Sunday, 16 November 2014

Kalanchoe thyrsiflora

"Kalanchoe thyrsiflora", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2014

Today's drawing is the fourth one I have done over the years of flowering plants of the genus, Kalanchoe, family, Crassulaceae [see postings for October 5 and 9, 2010, if interested].  

Kalanchoe is a genus of about 125 species of tropical, succulent flowering plants from southern and eastern Africa, Madagascar and parts of south-eastern Asia. Only one species of the genus originated in the Americas. (This is Kalanchoe pinnata, also called the Air Plant. It is found in South America and well known for it medicinal uses.) 

Typical leaves of
Kalanchoe thyrsiflora
Like most of the southern African Kalanchoe species, Kalanchoe thyrsiflora, featured in today's drawing, forms a basal rosette of large rounded, fleshy leaves, which are grayish green with red margins. [There is a variety found in Hawaii -- probably a cultivar since it is not native to Hawaii -- which has multi-coloured leaves. This is the one that I have tried to depict in today's drawing.] The plants can grow to about 60 cm. The erect, upward- facing, tightly arranged leaves are stemless. These leafy rosettes send up stalks of dense flowers which are coated with a white powder. The flowers are greenish with yellow re-curved lobes and appear from February to June along the Cape region of South Africa.

Kalanchoe thyrsiflora and other Kalanchoe species found in southern Africa are known locally as Paddle Plant, Flapjacks or Meelplakkie, an Afrikaans name for flour. Kalanchoe thyrsiflora, first described by Harvey, is one of 6 species of Kalanchoe listed in Flora Capensis which was published in 1861. It was also the first Kalanchoe to be illustrated in "The Flowering Plants of South Africa". 

The species name thyrsiflora refers to the flowering of the plant which is a “thryse” or many-flowered kind of blooming. Kalanchoe evidently comes from an unknown Chinese epithet. The name was assigned by the botanist, Adanson, who first described the genus Kalanchoe in 1763.

Apart from being used by the Sothos in South Africa as a charm to ease difficulties, no other cultural or traditional uses have been recorded for 
Kalanchoe thyrsiflora.  Horticulturally, the plants are very popular in rock gardens, on rocky embankments and as perennial container plants.

Much of the above information was taken from various Internet sources.



Suki are you smiling?
There is really nothing to report on either of us this week.

Suki has been reasonably well behaved.  She did get a bit antsy on Friday when some workmen were making lots of noise on the floor above us; however, the noise soon ceased and Suki able to return to her napping.

I did have an medical appointment this past week, also on Friday; however, it was relatively uneventful as it was simply a yearly follow-up.  After a quick check-over, I was told that the particular part of my anatomy in question was in fine shape and that I did not need to return for another two years!  I said, "Fine.  If I'm still around in two years, I'll come and see you!"  And with that I left and took a taxi home.

So, I am grateful to have had a quiet week and am hoping that the coming one will be similar.  The pain levels haven't gotten any worse and Suki and I both are sleeping well.

It is rather strange to think that I have reached a point in my life when I consider a week where I: stayed at home every day tending to my quiet activities, was able to keep my pain levels from increasing and experienced relatively decent behaviour from Suki to have been a really good week!  Who would have thought....


33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

"Icon -- Holy Mary, Mother of God",
by the hand of Sarah "Sallie"
Thayer, 2011
Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and  gathering where you did not scatter seed; so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ But his master replied, ‘You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents. For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ Matt. 25:24-30
"St. Joseph and the Christ Child",
by the hand of Sarah "Sallie"
Thayer, 2012

I decided to use two drawings today -- drawings of the two people who not only doubled the "talents" they were given, but who actually "double-quadrupled" their "talents":  Our Lady and St. Joseph.

Now, as to the Gospel, itself, I have posted only the latter half of today's reading.  Most of us know the story of the "talents" so well that simply a few words from the passage will bring the entire story to mind.

It's a story that I have always had a bit of difficulty with -- not just because I feel that I, too, have probably wasted my "talents", but also because I feel so sorry, each time I read or hear the story. We read that the man, who went and buried his "talent" until the Master returned out of fear of losing what he had been given, ended up losing everything -- and I mean everything.  For when he returns the one "talent" to the Master, he not only loses his one "talent", but he is also "cast into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth"! Doesn't that sound like fun?

I always wonder what will be done with someone who not only buries their "talent", but then refuses to even dig it up and return it to the Master.  This is often how I feel about the way I have lived my life. So I have to wonder just what even more terrible things might be in store for me!

BTW, "talent" was a term used in that time for something of actual monetary value, but the Church has come to see "talent" not just as money, but as all the "stuff" we are born with and acquire during our lifetimes as well -- both natural abilities and acquired ones, including skills, wealth and power.  So, that is why I have to ask myself:  "what have I done with my "talents'?  What a scary question!

Well, as Fr. Benedict always used to say:  "when I come before God, all I am going to do is to fall on my knees (or whatever I have at that point to fall on) and loudly cry 'mercy', 'mercy', 'mercy'."  I think that's a plan!  Meanwhile, I pray for the grace to just keep trying to get it right.

I pray that I will never forget that God, who is Love, never ceases loving me or any of us. May we never cease loving in return.


Sunday, 9 November 2014

Aeschynanthus 'Thai Pink'

"Aeschynanthus 'Thai Pink' ", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2014

"Thai Pink" is a cultivar (a plant variety produced by selective breeding) of the genus Aeschynanthus in the family Gesneriaceae

I did a drawing last year of another Aeschynanthus (A. radicans --better known as the Lipstick Plant) which I posted back on May 8, 2013.  You may be familiar with these plants as various species of the so-called "Lipstick Plant" are frequently available wherever house plants are sold.
"Aeschynanthus radicans, Lipstick Plant"
drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2013

Aeschynanthus is a large genus of Old World tropical plants native primarily to Southeast Asia (think Malaysia, Java, Thailand, etc.). They are often trailing epiphytes (a plant that grows upon another plant, non-parasitically, or upon some other object -- such as a tree or a building -- and derives its moisture and nutrients from the air and rain). Most have fairly large and showy flowers which are frequently pollinated by birds.

Aeschynanthus comes from the Greek aischyno, meaning “ashamed” and anthos, meaning “flowers”. This combination refers to the usual colour of the flowers – a reddish-pink color similar to that seen when someone is blushing.

I am not really satisfied with many aspects of this most recent drawing of Aeschynanthus so you may well see another drawing of one or another of the species of Aeschynanthus in the near future!



Well, I certainly have two wonderful "great-nephews": Ronàn and Braden. (I'm not really their great-aunt, but they call me "Auntie Sallie" anyway). Their maternal grandmother was a very dear friend who did me the honour of asking me to be the godmother of one of her children.  This godmother/godson relationship has been one of the most precious relationships of my life and now I am getting to share in the joy of my godson's children.  What a great blessing.

As you can see from the photos below, the brothers appear to be doing well and enjoying getting to know one another. Rest assured, you will be seeing lots more photos of these lovely lads in the days ahead!

Ronàn says: "Am I ever glad to be home!"

Braden with his baby brother, Ronàn.  
Braden says:  "I'm glad to have my baby brother home -- even if he is a little noisy at times!" 



Suki settling down for a snooze with her
favourite teddy bear!
Suki had another visit this week from the "flush of plumbers".  This time they noisily arrived with all the equipment need to "clean the kitchen stacks" -- whatever that means.

All I know is that after this, their third or fourth visit, I still have a hole in my wall covered with plastic sheeting and tape.  All Suki knows is that the "monster" keeps returning which means she has had to spend quite a bit of time these past weeks hiding in the back of the bedroom closet!

Each time this (or any other) monster arrives, Suki makes a mad dash for the bedroom (thankfully for her I always leave the door slightly ajar).  I hear her as she quickly makes her way to the back of the closet and then all is silent.  That monster is not going to catch her for she is, now, safely in her bolt hole for the duration plus. What I mean by "duration plus" is that she will not only stay in her hiding place for however long the workmen are here, but she will remain there for a good two hours after they have left -- just in case the monster hasn't really gone and is waiting to grab her just outside the closet door!

What is interesting to me is that Suki seems to know almost immediately, from the moment I open the door of my apartment, whether the people coming in are friends/acquaintances or workmen.  Maybe its the way they knock or walk or how noisy they are -- I can't figure it out.  Just as many people arrive when certain of my friends bring their family with them for a visit or when the people come from the Cathedral each Sunday with Holy Communion.  

It remains a mystery as to how Suki knows instantly which is which.  When the workmen arrive, she is into that bedroom closet in a flash, but when friends or acquaintances arrive, Suki hangs around, investigating them and, in particular, smelling their shoes! I have no idea why she is so keen on shoes -- unlike a dog, she has no interest in chewing on them -- but it's to the shoes she goes once everyone is seated and shoe-less. 

I have told Suki that the plumbers will not be back and she seems relieved; however, I have not yet told her that other workmen will be arriving sometime during the next couple of weeks in order to repair the hole in the wall!  No sense in giving her anything extra to worry about, poor kitty.

As for me, I had a doctor's appointment this past week.  It was just a regular visit to my family doctor so that I could have routine blood work done and get my flu shot.  It has been a couple of months now since I have had to do anything so strenuous and I was not really prepared for how painful the experience was going to be. 

In fact, I am still rather shocked at how difficult the entire experience was.  It was so difficult that by the time I arrived back home, I had to head straight for the most powerful pain meds and take to my bed, staying their until the next day! I'm thinking now that it may be time for me to make the necessary arrangements for home nursing and medical visits rather than trying to go out to the lab and the doctor's offices.

So, as you can see, I experienced a couple of significant events this past week what with the visit to the doctor and a visit from Suki's "monster".  The week ahead includes a visit to one of my medical specialists so I am going to do everything I can to make the trip there and back as easy on myself as possible.  I will let you know how I manage.



"Icon--Our Lady, Protectress of the Church", by the hand of
Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2009 rev.

The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. He told those who were selling ....  ..............................................................................................“Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!” His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” The Jews then said to him, “What sign can you show us for doing this?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and will you raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking of the temple of his body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this; and they believed the scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.
John 2.13,16-22

The temple of stones is a symbol of the Living Church

"Today the liturgy celebrates the dedication of the Lateran Basilica, called “mother and head of all the churches of the city and the world.” In fact, this basilica was the first to be built after Emperor Constantine’s edict (313 A.D.) granted Christians freedom to practice their religion. In fact, at the time of the edict, Constantine gave Pope Miltiades the ancient palace of the Laterani family. The basilica, the baptistery, and the patriarchate -- the Bishop of Rome’s residence where the Popes lived until 1309 -- were all built there. The basilica’s dedication was celebrated by Pope Sylvester around the year 324 A.D.

On today's solemnity, the Word of God recalls an essential truth: the temple of stones is a symbol of the living Church, the Christian community. In their letters, the Apostles Peter and Paul already understood the Church as a “spiritual edifice,” built by God with “living stones,” namely, Christians themselves, upon the one foundation of Jesus Christ, who is called the “cornerstone” (cf. 1 Corinthians 3:9-11, 16-17; 1 Peter 2:4-8; Ephesians 2:20-22). “Brothers (and Sisters), you are God’s building,” St. Paul wrote, and added: “holy is God’s temple, which you are” (1 Corinthians 3:9c, 17)."

The two paragraphs above were taken from

May today's feast help me to remember that I am called to be a "living stone" in the Body of Christ, the Church.

May we all know the joy and peace that comes from being a support for others and from allowing others to support us -- like stones in a building -- as we make our journey through life.


Sunday, 2 November 2014

Young Girl with Pomegranate

"Young Girl with Pomegranate", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2014

This week's drawing was inspired by a painting entitled, "Girl with a Pomegranate" by the French traditionalist artist, W-A. Bouguereau.  When I saw his painting, I immediately thought to myself: "this is how Our Lady might have looked as a young girl -- dressed for the ceremony that would betroth her to St. Joseph."  

I particularly liked the idea of her holding a pomegranate. Bouguereau probably used it because of its rich symbolism in classical works of art.  I wanted to use it in my drawing, however, because of its rich Jewish and Scriptural symbolism. Jewish tradition, for example, teaches that the pomegranate is a symbol of righteousness because it is said to have 613 seeds, which corresponds with the 613 mitzvot, or commandments, of the Torah. As well, many Jewish scholars believe that the pomegranate was the “forbidden fruit” of the Garden of Eden which would make it the perfect fruit for Our Lady, the new Eve, to be holding.  

Now for a bit of information about the artist whose work, "Girl with a Pomegranate", inspired me... 
William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1825–1905) was a French academic painter and traditionalist. In his realistic genre paintings he used mythological themes, making modern interpretations of classical subjects, with an emphasis on the female body.  

Bouguereau was born at La Rochelle, France in 1825, into a family of wine and olive oil merchants. When he showed artistic talent early on, his father was convinced by a client to send him to the École des Beaux-Arts in Bordeaux. Young Bouguereau found ways to earn money with his art and with this money plus some from his aunt, he was able to go to Paris and became a student at the École des Beaux-Arts. To supplement his formal training in drawing, he attended anatomical dissections and studied historical costumes and archaeology.  In 1856, he married Marie-Nelly Monchablon and subsequently had five children. 

Bouguereau self-portrait
During his life he enjoyed significant popularity in France and the United States, was given numerous official honours and received top prices for his work. However, as the quintessential salon painter of his generation, he was reviled by the Impressionists such as Claude Monet, Édouard Manet and Henri Matisse. 

By the early twentieth century, Bouguereau and his art begin to fall out of favour with the public, due, in part, to changing tastes although his paintings of goddesses, nymphs, bathers, shepherdesses and the Madonna continued to appeal to wealthy art patrons of the era. Interestingly, in the 1980s, a revival of interest in figure painting led to renewed interest in Bouguereau and his work.  
In 1905, William-Adolphe Bouguereau died from heart disease at his home in La Rochelle.  He was 79 years old. 

*Much of the above information was taken from various Internet sources.



Braden's little brother, Ronàn, arrived on October 31st. Both mother and baby are doing fine!

There are about 12 Irish saints with the name of Ronàn with the best known being St. Ronàn of Locronàn (also known as St. Ronàn the Silent).  The young Master Ronàn should be well looked after, indeed, by all these heavenly friends!

Also, his middle name is Declan so I am sure that St. Declan of Ardmore will be praying for him too.

Here are a couple of photos.  Rest assured that I will be sharing more photos of Ronàn (and Braden) in the days ahead. Now, please rejoice with me and give thanks for the gift of this new life.

Ronàn asleep in the hospital nursery

Braden with his new baby brother (Ronàn is being held by his grandmother)
I cropped this rather closely so please forgive the excessive graininess and 

blurring of the images.



If Suki had to go on a car ride...!

Something really strange has been going on this past week... every morning, this crazy cat, with whom I share my home, has been trying to get me to wake up and feed her at 4:30 instead of her usual 5:30!  As you can imagine, this has not been pleasant for either of us -- especially for me.

I couldn't, for the life of me, figure out why on earth Suki should suddenly start her wake-up procedure an hour earlier than usual. Then, last night, as I was setting all the clocks back an hour, the thought struck me:  "It's almost like Suki knew we were going back on "real" time instead of this artificial stuff called Daylight Savings Time!  So, you won't be surprised to learn that when Suki woke me up this morning, the clock read 5:30 once again!

How did Suki know?  What made her insist on setting the clocks back a week before the rest of Canada and the USA?  Truly, I find this very strange.  It makes me realize, even more clearly, that in spite of the fact that I think I am so knowledgeable about so many things, I really know so little and understand even less! 

Otherwise, things at my home continue much as usual.  The pain levels remain about the same and my pain management techniques continue to be fairly effective about 80% of the time -- especially the distraction technique.  By "distraction technique", I mean the few remaining things I am able to do that usually can absorb my attention so completely that I can enter into a space, for a period of time, where I am less aware of the pain. Such things include, especially, my art work as well as watching advertisement-free films or TV shows that really interest me and keep my attention.

I have discovered that pain management is really a full-time job. Thank goodness, I'm a retired person!  



"Icon, Mother of God of Magadan", by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2011 rev.

Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honour. John 12:23-26

"...unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies..."  This icon shows us what that grain of wheat looks like in the dying -- both in Christ's laying down of His life and in the Blessed Mother's gift of letting go of, not clinging to, her Son's life so that He might freely lay it down.  

For did not Christ also say:  "Greater love has no one than to lay down their life for another"?  
I seek not to be alarmed at the prospect of laying down my life for others through those small, daily sacrifices involved in putting others first for we are promised that if we but die to ourselves, we will share in a huge harvest -- a harvest of love -- that might, one day, cover the whole earth.

May this kind of love set us free so that peace may fill our hearts and minds today and always.