Sunday, 14 June 2015

Poppies and Blue Cornflowers

"Poppies Among Blue Cornflowers", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2015

The poppy is a flowering plant in the family, Papaveraceae. The best known species of poppy, Papaver somniferum, produces edible seeds, and is also the source of the crude drug opium which contains powerful medicinal alkaloids such as morphine and has been used since ancient times as an analgesic/narcotic medicinal drug. Following the trench warfare which took place in the poppy fields of Flanders, during the 1st World War, poppies have become a symbol of remembrance of soldiers who have died during wartime. The poppy of wartime remembrance is Papaver rhoeas, (see those in the drawing above) the red-flowered corn poppy. This poppy is a common weed in Europe. 

Speaking of symbolism, poppies have long been used as a symbol of sleep, peace, and death: Sleep because the opium extracted from them is a powerful sedative, peace because a small amount can change manic behavior into peaceful behaviour and death because an overdose leads to death while the blood-red color of the wild poppy signifies spilled blood. A second interpretation of poppies in Classical mythology is that the bright scarlet color, which some see as signifying blood and death, does, instead, represent a promise of resurrection after death. 

Now for the second flower in this drawing... Centaurea cyanus commonly known as blue cornflower, bachelor's button or boutonniere flower, is an annual flowering plant in the family, Asteraceae, native to Europe. Through introduction as an ornamental plant in gardens and a seed contaminant in crop seeds, it is now naturalized in many other parts of the world, including North America and parts of Australia. 

Cornflowers have been used and prized historically for their blue pigment. Cornflowers are often used as an ingredient in some tea blends and herbal teas and is probably best-known as being included in the Lady Grey blend of Twinings. The cornflower is an edible flower so it can be used to add colour to salads. In folklore, cornflowers were worn by young men in love. If the flower faded too quickly, it was taken as a sign that the man's love was not returned. In herbalism, a decoction of cornflower is effective in treating conjunctivitis and as a wash for tired eyes. 

The species Latin name, Cyanus, was given the cornflower in honour of a youthful devotee of the goddess Flora (the mother of all flowers). Cyanus, out of love for the goddess, wiled away his time weaving flower-garlands to honour Flora and so neglected his own requirements for good health. Thus, he fell ill and died in a field of millet. Flora for love of him made him into the flower that still bears his name and to this day grows resplendently in fields of grain. The name of the genus, Centaurea, is derived from Centaur (Chiron), a mythological creature, who taught mankind the healing virtue of herbs.

This is my fifth or sixth drawing that includes poppies.  While I am not as fond of them as I am of Calla Lilies, I really do like them -- especially the red-flowered corn poppy. Expect to see more drawings of them in the future!

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


Sadly, I was not able to attend the Baptism of Rònàn after all. It wasn't the pain that kept me at home; rather, it was these blessed antibiotics the doctor has me on!  Thankfully, I received a number of photos from the event the very next day and these certainly lifted my spirits.  Here are some of them:

Rònàn all dressed up and ready to go to church!

Rònàn says:  "If I'm ready to go, why aren't you?"

Rònàn says:  "Well, at least my big brother, Braden, is finally ready!  Now
where are those parents of ours?

Rònàn says:  "Well, at least my godfather here and ready to go!  Mom, Dad, we're 
gonna be late if you don't get a move on!!



"OK, so what's going on here?
Do I need to run and hide or can I 

just stay put?"
How does Suki know?  That's the question I am asking today. Let me explain...

Normally, when someone knocks on my door, Suki becomes instantly alert and ready to act. Since I respond to any knock with the shouted question: "who is it?", Suki usually does take any action until she hears their response.  If it is a voice she recognizes, she will often simply stay where she is. If it is a voice she does not recognize, then she gets up and moves close to the bedroom doorway in case she has to make a mad dash for her bedroom closet hideaway!

However, there is one scenario which always elicits a deep growling noise from Suki:  whenever a workman knocks on my door [remember, for Suki "workman" means "noise monster"]. This growling noise occurs with the first knock -- not when I shout "who is it" -- not when I actually open the door -- but with the very first sound of knocking. So, how does she know?  How can Suki tell in that first instant that the person knocking is the "noise monster" and not a friend or some person from the post office?  I mean, think about it -- how can she possibly know? 

I am mentioning all of this because the "noise monster" visited us around 9 a.m. this past Thursday.  Suki was sleeping soundly in her usual after-breakfast location when there was a loud knocking on the front door.  Immediately, Suki was alert and growling -- making that sound that cats make when they are saying: "if you threaten me in any way, I will attack you." I called out:  "who is it?" and as soon as the guy shouted back: "I'm here to fix the hole in the closet wall", Suki made a mad dash for her bedroom bolt hole.

I pressed the automatic door opener so that the guy could come in and after we exchanged a few words, he set about putting a metal door where the hole had been.  From now on when they need to gain access to the pipes, all they will have to do is open this door -- not knock another hole in my wall.

He finished his work after about 45 minutes and left. However, Suki was not seen again until around 11:30. At this point she emerged from the bedroom closet to begin her regular begging campaign in hopes that she might get fed before her 12 noon lunch time! I was tempted to tease her about being such a scaredy-cat, but refrained -- after all, it had been a rather traumatic morning for her!

As for me, things remain pretty much the same.  As you read in the 
Rònàn and Braden section, I was not able to attend the Baptism. Thankfully, that was the only event scheduled for week. Otherwise, there were just the usual visits at home with Joycelyn and Sharon and phone calls from my sister and some special friends.

This week I have a couple of doctor's appointments scheduled. One is simply a follow-up appointment -- me checking in and getting a prescription for enough medication to get me through another six months. The other appointment will let me know if I am finally infection free after having had two, 10-day periods of antibiotics over the past 4 weeks.  Here's hoping that all the bad bugs are finally dead!



"Icon -- Christ the Teacher", by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, Rev. 2014

Jesus said to the crowds: “This is how it is with the kingdom of God; it is as if a man were to scatter seed on the land and would sleep and rise night and day and through it all the seed would sprout and grow, he knows not how. Of its own accord the land yields fruit, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. And when the grain is ripe, he wields the sickle at once, for the harvest has come.” He said, “To what shall we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable can we use for it? It is like a mustard seed that, when it is sown in the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth. But once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade.” With many such parables he spoke the word to them as they were able to understand it. Without parables he did not speak to them, but to his own disciples he explained everything in private. Mk. 4:26-34

I am often wondered about the statement found in today's Gospel:  "...but to his own disciples He explained everything in private." Christ, we are told here, explained everything, but those same disciples seemed to understand so little -- they continued to ask questions which show that they don't really understand very much at all.

It seems to me that things really haven't changed very much in all the centuries since.  I mean, I have had so much explained to me "in private" and yet I still understand practically nothing.  Am I the exception or the rule? 

For instance, do you understand how we, the creatures created by the God who is Love, continue, daily, to do the most unloving, terrifyingly evil things to one another and to the creation which surrounds us?  We not only do these things but then justify them as "doing the will of God". We seldom seem to ask how the Will of Divine Love can be so unloving.

So, I pray not only for actual understanding but, above all, for a heart filled with Christ-like love -- a love that will infuse understanding with compassion and bring forth actions which reveal the loving concern that God has for each and every aspect of creation.  May we live our lives like the fruitful trees of the parable. Growing as our loving Creator intended and providing food, shelter, shade and safety for others our whole lives through.


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