Sunday, 5 April 2015

Cherry Blossom Time

"Cherry Blossoms in Springtime", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2015
(Japanese characters mean:  Cherry Blossoms in Spring")

When people speak of cherry trees, they may be speaking of any of several trees in the genus, Prunus (Family, Rosaceae), which includes a number of different species, including quite a few cultivars.

The best known of these is the Japanese Cherry, Prunus serrulata. This is the one tourists visit Washington D.C. and Ottawa to enjoy in its glorious springtime flowering. 

However, in North America, we are very familiar with the related species Prunus avium ( the Sweet Cherry) and Prunus cerasus (the Sour Cherry) – both of which produce edible cherries. As well, there is Prunus cerasifera, known as the Plum Cherry tree, which also produces edible fruit. There are many varieties which have been cultivated simply for ornamental use and produce inedible fruit or no fruit at all. 

The Cherry tree is speculated to be native to the Himalayas. Currently it is widely distributed, especially in the temperate zones of Asia (Japan, South Korea, China, etc.) as well as in the Northern Hemisphere (Europe, the United States, Canada, etc.). 

The drawing I am featuring today shows a flowering branch of a cultivar of Prunus cerasifera

P. cerasifera is commonly known by the name of Cherry Plum Tree. The cherry plum is a popular ornamental tree for garden and landscaping use, grown for its very early flowering. 

Numerous cultivars have been developed from P. cerasifera, many of them selected for their purple foliage. These purple-foliage forms (often called purple-leaf plum trees), also have dark purple fruit, which make an attractive, intensely coloured jam. They can have white or pink flowers. 

Some kinds of purple-leaf plums are used for bonsai and other forms of living sculpture. As well, the cherry plum has been listed as one of the 38 plants that are used to prepare Bach flower remedies, a kind of alternative medicine promoted for its effect on health which, may, or may not, have any true healing qualities.

As you can see in my drawing above, I added some Japanese characters which are supposed to represent the words "spring", "in" and "cherry blossoms" which in English we would read as "cherry blossoms in springtime".  I was actually inspired by the striking Japanese pen and coloured-ink drawings of the beautiful cherry blossoms.

Some of the above information was taken from various Internet sources, particularly Wikipedia.



Ronàn Reads a Book

"What shall I do next?  I know, I will read a book."

"This looks like a good book.  I think I'll give it try."

"Yum!  I never knew literature could be so delicious (and feel so good on the gums!)."
"Maybe I really am a genius just like Mom says!"


Me be naughty?  Never!  Just look at this sweet face.



Suki half-asleep while lazing in the sunlight

Did you know that a cat has 32 muscles in each ear (and still they ignore you).  The only indication that they have heard you is that slight twitch of the ear using one or two of those 32 muscles.

Of course, when you want them to ignore you, too often they don't. This is certainly the case with Suki.

For example, I have spent years trying to train the people in my life to never call me around 11:30 a.m. or 5:30 p.m. -- unless they have make a previous arrangement with me or unless it is a real emergency.

You see, if I know that someone wants or needs to call me around 11:30 a.m. or 5:30 p.m., I can make certain that I have my portable phone next to me.  This means I do not have to get up out of my chair to answer the phone, but can simply stay where I am and talk with them comfortably.

However, if the call is unexpected, my portable phone will likely be on its charging stand.  If so, I will get up and hurry to reach the closer of my two phones. If I am on the computer, the closer phone would be the wall phone in the kitchen.  Are any of you beginning to guess what my problem is here?

As you have read often, Suki's feeding times are 6 a.m., 12 noon, 6 p.m. and 11-11:30 p.m.  So, if I end up having to go into the kitchen to answer the phone at 11:30 a.m., let's say, then what do you suppose Suki does?  Does she just twitch one or two of those 32 ear muscles and go back to sleep?  Of course not.  She leaps out of her chair, follows me into the kitchen and begins a vigourous campaign to get me to move her feeding time ahead by 30 minutes.

How many of you have ever tried to have a conversation with someone while a 13 lb. cat is attempting to manipulate you into feeding them?  Well, let me tell you ... it isn't easy to concentrate at all. What makes it even worse in my case is that the phone is located next to a "breakfast counter" which means that Suki can leap up onto the counter top and then attempt to climb onto my shoulders so that she can lick my ear!

All I'm saying is:  if you really need or want to call me around 11:30 a.m. or 5:30 p.m., please let me know beforehand. Otherwise, expect our conversation to be short and very confusing. Probably something like:  "Yes, (Suki stop that) I am feeling (Suki get away from my ear) about the (Suki stop licking my hand) same as I did (Suki stop that) last time we spoke (SUKI) ..."

People usually realize, after hearing a response like this, that they are either going to have to ask if they can call me back at a more convenient time, or graciously request that I phone them when it will be easier for me to talk or wait on the phone while I go ahead and feed the cat! 

I mention this because I have had several unexpected phone calls this past week between 11:15 and 11:45 a.m. and, as a consequence, Suki is beginning to think that her feeding time has been moved ahead to 11:30!  To paraphrase the song from The Sound of Music:  "what do you do with a problem like Suki..."

Otherwise, my life remains much the same.  I suddenly seem to have a number of medical appointments coming up, but they are all of a routine nature -- mostly annual checkups of one sort or another such as my yearly visit to the ophthalmologist. 

"This ain't the Easter Bunny!"
Photo by my dear friend, Grazyna W.,
copyright 2015, used with permission.
One thing new and interesting is my dear friend, Grazyna's, growing interest in using her iPad to develop her obvious photographic talents.  

Here is a recent example of one of her nature photos which, considering it was taken without a telephoto lens, is really quite good.  She posted it on Facebook so I used the title she gave it there.  I hope to be including more of her work in the future.



"Christ is Risen, Alleluia", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, revised 2015

On the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they put him.” So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb. They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter and arrived at the tomb first; he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in. When Simon Peter arrived after him, he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there, and the cloth that had covered his head, not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place. Then the other disciple also went in, the one who had arrived at the tomb first, and he saw and believed. For they did not yet understand the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead.
John 20:1-9

Well, finally Lent is over and we are celebrating, once again, the victory of Love.  Evil has done its worst, but Christ has shown us that even though He did not raise a hand to ward off the blows of the fists or the hammer; even though he allowed Himself to be tortured and killed; Love still triumphed.  Love triumphed then; Love triumphs today; Love will continue to triumph eternally.

I, so often, have twisted the teachings of Christ into all sorts of life-denying shapes during my lifetime, and, yet, I know deep down that whenever I turn away from a loving response to any situation, I am turning away from God, the God who is Love.  

So, as we celebrate once again the victory of life-giving Love over death-loving Evil, I pray that we may all be open to receive the God-given grace we need to be Christ-like in our daily lives.  May we always find the strength to choose that which is most loving, most life affirming -- no matter what the cost may be.


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