Sunday, 4 January 2015


"My Mother -- Mamiska, 1973", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2014

Recently, I have ended up doing drawings of mothers, including mine.  I'm not sure why my art work has taken this particular turn, but whatever the reason, I want to share the results with you today.

The first featured drawing is one of my mother.  For my model, I used a photograph I took of her in 1973 when she would have been 70-71 years old.  If you look at the title of the drawing you will see that it includes the word "Mamiska".  This is not a misspelling of the Russian word "mamochka" but is, in fact, my own nickname for my mother.  I do not recall exactly when or why I started using this term of endearment.  I think it was sometime in my late teens and I just remember liking the sound of it.

As many of you know, my mother wasn't what you could call a good mother, but I have come to feel that she did the best she could given her own woundedness.

"Mercedes Mother", drawing by
Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2014
This next drawing is of the mother of a friend of mine who originally came to Canada from one of the South American countries.  Her mother is also now deceased and the photo I worked from was taken when she was a young woman.

When I first saw the photo, I was immediately taken with the look on the face as well as its loveliness.  I am continuing to work on this one as I am not yet satisfied with the results -- I am still trying to capture a certain look.

"Hylott's Mother", drawing by
Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2011
This next drawing was inspired by a photo of an Alabama friend's mother taken when she was high school age.  She is deceased as well.

When my friend first shared the photo with me, I was immediately struck by the strength in this young woman's face and that is what I attempted to capture in my drawing.

I never met this woman even though we lived not that many miles apart, but I like to think she was a mother I could have really talked with.

"Icon -- Our Holy Mother", by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2014 revision

Finally, I  had to include a recent revision of an icon of the ultimate mother, Our Lady Mary.

I suppose I was thinking about mothers particularly as January 1st was the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God.  Thinking of her and her role as the Mother of the Redeemer led me to think about mothers in general  which led me to think about the various drawings of mothers I have worked on over the past few months. Which is, I guess, the reason why I ended up featuring these particular drawings today.



A couple of new photos:

Ronàn sleeping quietly

Braden making a silly face -- something 2 1/2 year old boys are always willing to do!



You may recall that I mentioned that Suki seemed a bit more "clingy" since her surgery and overnight-er at the veterinary clinic.  I assumed that it was just a phase she was going through after such a traumatic event. However, now I am beginning to think that I am going to have to re-evaluate those previous assumptions! The truth is that even over a month later Suki continues to behave in a way that was unknown prior to the vet clinic experience.  Let me explain....

Prior to these events, Suki rarely ever wanted to climb up onto my lap and sleep.  She would occasionally climb on top of my chest while I was sleeping, but that was in order to provide herself with a good perch from which to attempt to awaken me by licking my face. This sort of behaviour usually occurred about 5 a.m. when Suki must have been feeling the hunger-rumbles in her stomach. But, even this behaviour only occurred occasionally as Suki had learned years ago how dangerous it could be to put herself so close to my hands when trying to awaken me as the hands of a half-awake Sallie could be used very roughly indeed. As you know, she usually favours clacking the Venetian blinds or rattling plastic bags as methods to awaken me as these noises can be made a safe distance from those hands of mine!

The point I am trying to make is that Suki does not have a history of lap-sitting.  However, since the events at the vet clinic, all that has changed.  These days, starting in the afternoon and continuing throughout the evening hours, I can be assured that Suki is going to end up in my lap every time she awakens from one of her naps -- and she is very insistent about this whether I want her in my lap or not!

Let's say Suki is sleeping in her favourite chair in the bedroom after finishing her noon meal while I am trying to stay as comfortable as possible in my big recliner in the living room.  After about an hour of silence -- except for whatever noise I might be creating with talking books or the TV -- the silence will be broken by the first plaintive meow.  These meows will continue, over and over, as Suki slowly, slowly makes her way from the bedroom to the living room until she finally reaches the side of my chair where she sits for a moment before leaping onto my chair and plopping herself into my lap. It makes no difference to her how uncomfortable this may be for me -- she is determined to sit in my lap.  

I am such an old softy that I let her stay unless I am in just too much pain at the moment to tolerate her 13.5 lbs.  Even then, I will make a valiant effort to try to accommodate Suki's desire to be in my lap.  Usually, however, I end up letting her stay.  Once she realizes that I am not going to push her onto the floor, she quickly curls herself into that ball-shape we associate with sleeping cats and goes soundly to sleep.  She will stay in that same position, not moving, until I finally reach the point where my discomfort outweighs my tolerance and she suddenly finds herself being gently pushed off my lap and onto the floor.

At this point, Suki will head for another one of her favourite sleeping places -- the coat closet by the front door perhaps -- and settle down for another nap.  She will then sleep for about an hour or two until something causes her to awaken. Then I will hear the first of the plaintive meows which means she is on her way back to the living room and my lap!

All I can do is hope that, eventually, this lap-sitting business will turn out to have been just a phase Suki had to pass through in order to recover from trauma.  I dare not allow myself to consider the possibility that this might be a permanent change in her personality. Ouch and double-ouch!

Speaking of "Ouch-es", my general pain level has been pretty stable over the holidays.  In other words, it hasn't been any better, but, at least for the time being, it hasn't been any worse.  Of course, I made the decision several months ago that I wouldn't try to do any Christmas shopping and only send cards to my family and close friends.  Joycelyn, my friend and helper, took care of the mailing of all the calendars I had prepared with drawings of mine from the past year.  So, I was able to rest, enjoy a few short visits from friends and spend a lot of time utilizing my pain management techniques.  Thankfully, I had no medical appointments scheduled after the 18th of December and none are scheduled now until February.

I hope that you all had a good beginning to the year 2015 and that every day of this new year will be filled with blessings for you and all those who are dear to you.



"Icon -- Adoration of the Wise Men", by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2014 Rev.

When Jesus was born in Bethlehem, in Judea, during the days of King Herod, wise men from the east arrived in Jerusalem. They asked, "Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw the rising of his star in the east and have come to honor him." ... The star that they had seen in the East went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was. The wise men were overjoyed on seeing the star again. They went into the house and when they saw the child with Mary his mother, they knelt and worshiped him. They opened their bags and offered him their gifts of gold, incense and myrrh. Matt. 2:1-2; 9(b)-12

The story of the Wise Men has always struck me as absolutely amazing.  I mean, here we have three men, obviously learned and wealthy, who travel all the way from the area of what was then Persia to the backwater province of Palestine.  Once there, they go first to the local ruler thinking, I guess, that any "king" would be found there.  However, when they hear the prophecy from the Book of Micah, they set off for dusty, little Bethlehem.  I mean, I have been to Bethlehem and even today it isn't anything special.  Back then it must have truly been little more than a village.

Once in Bethlehem, these "wise" men finally locate the newborn child lying in a manger (a feeding trough) in a stable (a cave probably) with his teenage mother and a man they assume to be the father of the child. These two people and their baby have nothing but a donkey and a few belongings -- yet these men give them gifts worthy of a king's palace.  What did these men actually see?  Why were they willing to lay such priceless gifts at the "crib" of this poor baby?  Did they leave there believing that they had truly found someone worthy of their gifts and their worship?  Did they ever try to find out what had happened to this child?  Such a strange story with so many questions without answers.  What do you believe when you reflect on this passage from Matthew's Gospel?

May we all be counted as wise when it comes to understanding what is really important in life. May we all have generous hearts when confronted by the poor and needy.  May we cease from self-righteous judgement of those less fortunate than ourselves and say, instead, "there, but for the grace of God, go I..."


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