Sunday, 30 August 2015

Artistic Endeavours

"Daydreaming of the Concert Stage -- Instead of Practicing Those Scales"
drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2015

[See information about Frank Thayer's new book mid-way through this section]

Today's drawing was inspired by a painting entitled, "Melodian", by the American artist, Eugene Montgomery.  His painting showed a woman sitting in a similar position with a melodian, not a piano, in the background (a melodian is a small organ popular in the 19th century, similar to the harmonium).  He used his wife as the model for this work.  I, on the other hand, used his painting as the "model" for my work.

Montgomery was born in Texas in 1905.  As a young man, he studied art at the Art Institute of Chicago.  In time he became a well-known painter and illustrator.  He died in December of 2001, leaving behind a very large portfolio of portraits, murals and commercial illustrations.  In other words, he was a man of real artistic talent who took the necessary steps to properly develop this talent. This dedication allowed his artistic endeavours to bring him recognition as a true artist -- a recognition which has lasted over time.

On the other hand, as the title of my drawing above suggests, too many of us spend our time daydreaming of being successful in one vocation or another instead of actually doing the work required to develop whatever talent we may possess in a particular area.  I say this with myself in mind!

From the time I was a teenager, I dreamed of being an artist, but, sadly, I spent most of my time doodling and dreaming rather than actually doing the hard work required to master the skills required. While I may have had some small successes over the years, I know I have never truly done the "grunt work" required to become something other than mediocre.  

On the other hand, there have been people with whom I am well-acquainted who have actually worked diligently at developing their talents. In fact, their artistic endeavours, over time, have reflected not only their talent, but, eventually, their determination to master their craft through repetitive practice and plain hard work.


One such person is a family member by the name of Frank Thayer. He is a writer whose natural abilities have been enhanced over the years by his education and the disciplined, hard work of writing. Frank has been writing articles, books and newspaper columns (fiction and non-fiction) since he was a very young man.  As well as working in the field of journalism, he has, for many, many years now, been teaching others how to write.  For a number of years, and up to the present day, this teaching as been done at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

Front cover of Frank Thayer's
most recent book

[Photo used with permission 
of the author]

His most recent offering is a fictional work entitled: "The Cobston Trilogy: the Ontario Horror".  I have just finished reading it even though, as many of you are aware, reading has become a very uncomfortable activity for me these days due to my ongoing eye problems.  However, I was determined to read the entire book and have done so by reading approximately 5 pages each morning and 5 pages each afternoon, most days, for the past couple of weeks. 

Back cover of Frank Thayer's
most recent book

[Photo used with permission 
of the author]

As the title suggests, this book fits into the horror/mystery genre -- in the tradition of H. P. Lovecraft (for those familiar with this master of horror fiction). In my opinion, it is very well-written with only the occasional typo to interrupt the flow of the narrative.  A good read with a number of interesting attachments at the end which enhance the actual story.

If any of you should be interested in getting a copy of the book, you can contact the author at: P. O. Box 3136, Las Cruces, New Mexico, 88003.  The cost is $19.95 (USD) plus shipping and handling.  



Here are a few recent photos of "my" two boys.  It is difficult for me to believe that Rònàn is already walking, but, then, he will be one year old in a little over two months!

Big brother helping little brother -- I think!

Brothers playing together -- so many toys, so little time!

Rònàn playing on his own

Braden feeding the goats at the petting zoo



What's that cat doing lying on top of me?!!
Suki, like most house cats, enjoys sleeping under various items such as blankets, pillows and both my clean and dirty clothes!

Recently, I had carefully placed my "I Don't Do Mornings" cat T-shirt over the chair in the bathroom so that it would remain unwrinkled until I was ready to put it on after my shower.  However, when Joycelyn went to pick up the T-shirt so that I could put it on, she was startled to find a cat sleeping underneath!  Fortunately, my iPad was close to hand and so I was able to snap a couple of photos before Suki, showing great displeasure, got up and left -- moving to the bedroom where she partially crawled under the pillows on the bed and went back to sleep.

Actually, Suki has had a couple of close calls over the years because of her liking for crawling under things and going to sleep. Once, I almost sat on her after she crawled under a couple of folded blankets.  These had been left on the bed in preparation for making room for them in the linen closet.  I thought the blankets looked a bit lumpy, but had just started to let myself sink down on top of them when I became aware of a purring sound (fortunately, I still have excellent hearing).  Since this occurred a few years ago when I had less pain, I was able to stop myself in "mid-sit".  As I quickly stood up and looked behind me, I witnessed a very sleepy cat poking her head out from underneath the blankets.

At that time, I remember telling Suki that if she wasn't more careful in the future, she would end up getting sat upon. Sadly, she did not seem to be too impressed by my words -- rather, she looked at me with mild contempt and, crawling back under the blankets, returned to her nap!  

The only other time Suki came really close to getting squashed was more recently when she crawled under some pillows left in a chair while Joycelyn was changing the bed linens.  I came into the bedroom and decided to sit down in that chair while putting on some clean socks. Fortunately for Suki's sake, I lowered myself very carefully onto the edge of the chair due to the number of pillows involved. This fact alone kept her from being injured. As is usually the case, however, Suki did not appear to be impressed as she popped her head out from under the pillows and proceeded to express her displeasure with a number of very loud meows. What a cat!

As for me, another quiet week has meant that the pain was a bit easier to manage -- until this past Friday that is. On Friday morning I had an appointment with one of my doctors which included a visit to the lab for more blood work followed by a visit to the X-ray department at the hospital for another picture. All of this left me feeling a bit out of things for the next few days. Hopefully, the coming week will be a truly quiet one as, to the best of my knowledge, I have no appointments scheduled at all. Hooray!



"Icon -- Christ the Teacher", by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2015 rev.

...  So the Pharisees and scribes questioned him, “Why do your disciples not follow the tradition of the elders but instead eat a meal with unclean hands?” He responded, “Well did Isaiah prophesy about you hypocrites, as it is written: This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines human precepts. You disregard God’s commandment but cling to human tradition.” He summoned the crowd again and said to them, “Hear me, all of you, and understand. Nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person; but the things that come out from within are what defile. “From within people, from their hearts, come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly. All these evils come from within and they defile.”  Mk. 7:5-8, 14-15, 21-23

Lately I have been streaming a TV series about scientists who have developed a scale for rating people who commit various types of murder.  These killers, as you can imagine, range from those whose spontaneous actions in a moment of extreme passion lead to the death of another all the way to those whose actions reveal the horrors found in the minds of the most psychopathic serial killers.  

As the documentary episodes explore the stories of the types and degrees of malice exhibited by these killers, the viewer begins to hear what sounds like the same story over and over again.  These stories reveal persons whose hearts are filled with varying amounts of lust, hatred, anger, greed, lack of forgiveness, arrogance and envy.  People whose unfounded sense of entitlement causes them to feel as though they have the right to take away a person's most precious possession -- their life. What do they feel gives them this right? Well, usually because some person (or persons) stands between them and something or someone they want -- something or someone they feel they are entitled to have -- no matter the cost to others.

Over time, our words and actions always reveal what is truly in our hearts -- what really motivates us.  

So perhaps our prayer should be something like this paraphrase of the words of Psalm 19, verse 14:

"Let the words of my mouth flow from a heart that is pure so that both my words and actions may be acceptable in Your sight and be a blessing to others, O Lord, my Strength and my Redeemer."


Sunday, 23 August 2015

Bomarea ovallei -- Lion's Claw

"Bomarea ovallei -- Lion's Claw", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2015

Bomarea ovallei (Lion’s Claw or Garra de león) is native to Chile. It is a member of the family, Alstroemeriáceas [flowering plants with 200 species in three or four genera native to the Americas from Central America to southern South America]. The genus Bomarea produces clusters of red or, more rarely, yellow, bell-shaped flowers. 

Bomarea ovallei inhabits rocky soil in a coastal area of northern Chile. One of Chile's rarest flowers, it is endemic to only the Llanos de Challe National Park and nearby area. Due to its restricted distribution and because its tubers are apparently quite tasty to Guanacos (see photo below) and other animals, it is considered to be an endangered species. 

It was originally classified as Leontochir ovallei with its own monotypic genus (that means a genus of one!). Leontochir means Lion's hand or claw -- from the Greek “Leon”. However, in 2000, the plant was transferred to the genus Bomarea as Bomarea ovallei. 

Bomarea is derived from the name of Jacques-Christophe Valmont Bomare (1731-1807), a Frenchman who visited numerous countries in the Americas and is the author of " Dictionnaire d'histoire naturelle " (published in 1768). The species name of ovallei is thought to be derived from the name “Javier Ovalle” who, it is reported, first collected the seeds of this rare plant for study. 

These are extraordinarily beautiful flowers with a sweet, honey-like scent.  Wouldn't it be great if my drawings could have a scent file attached?!

This was a very interesting plant to draw.  Not only does it have a striking design, but it also uses some of my favourite colours. Nature is truly bountiful.

Botanical details and general information above were taken from Wikipedia and other 
Internet sources.


Suki getting ready to growl in response to
someone knocking on our front door!
Election campaigns -- bah, humbug!

One thing none of those silly politicians considered when they called this election was the effect such a campaign might have on the mental health of Suki and Sallie!  I'm serious.  I wonder if I should sue?

Perhaps I should explain... 

Normally, Suki and I lead a very quiet life these days with Suki sleeping and me trying to find ways to manage the pain. I mean, normally, a whole week can go past without anyone knocking on the front door.  However, due to Canada's current election campaign, numerous people have started knocking on my door daily.  Suki, as you know, always suspects that there are monsters on the other side of the door -- so, each time one of these campaigners knocks, Suki jerks awake, ears back, fur puffed up, growling menacingly.  

Of course, I don't even answer the door as I know that Joycelyn has a key and anyone else who might want to visit us would have telephoned me before stopping by.  After a couple of additional knocks, I hear the sound of papers being slipped under my door followed by the sound of footsteps walking away.  At this point, Suki, who had been sleeping so peacefully, has to get up and go over to investigate the campaign brochures left behind. Once she has sniffed them a bit, she turns around and looks at me as though I am somehow to blame for her disturbed sleep.  It is as though she is saying: "If I had to wake up, you should have at least provided me with something interesting to sniff OR maybe it's time for some food!"

Of course, I am not totally uninterested in politics or the candidates involved, it is just that I am not eligible to vote in Canada as I have never sought dual citizenship. Thus, this federal campaign is just another one that I will have to watch from the sidelines.

As well, I am getting a lot of those computer-generated phone calls which are also a real nuisance.  Thankfully, there is always that silence when you first answer the phone, before the recording clicks in, which gives me plenty of time to hang up before I have to hear a computer-type voice telling me how wonderful so-and-so is and how much they will do for me, personally, if elected!

Otherwise, for the most part, my life continues as usual.  This past week, we finally had a break in that lengthy and most unpleasant spell of hot weather. Now the temperatures being back in the normal range again.  Of course, since this happened suddenly -- from one day to the next -- I ended up with a "sudden-change-in-the-barometric-pressure-type" migraine. 

Thankfully, the medication available these days works quickly by narrowing the blood vessels around the brain, stopping pain signals from being sent to the brain, and blocking the release of certain natural substances that cause pain, nausea, and other symptoms of migraine.  Before these new drugs were developed, migraines used to mean at least 2-3 days in bed in a darkened room or even a trip to the emergency department at my nearest hospital!  If only the research scientists could find a way to so easily control the pain from arthritis-type diseases...  

Ah, well, maybe one of these days.  



"Christ Stands at the Door, Knocking" (Truth Stands at the Door
and Knocks),  drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2015 Revision

Many of Jesus’disciples who were listening said, “This saying is hard; who can accept it?” Since Jesus knew that his disciples were murmuring about this, he said to them, “Does this shock you? What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life, while the flesh is of no avail. The words I have spoken to you are Spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe.” Jesus knew from the beginning the ones who would not believe and the one who would betray him. And he said, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by my Father.” As a result of this, many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him.
Jesus then said to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?” Simon Peter answered him, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”  Jn. 6:60-69

I have not yet "written" an icon that I feel would exactly express the content of this particular passage from St. John's Gospel so, instead, I used the drawing of Christ standing at the door (of the heart) and knocking. Perhaps He is asking that question which has echoed down through the centuries: "Do you also want to leave?" or, as another translation puts it: "Will you also turn your back on me and walk away?"

Is this not the ultimate question? What will be our answer?

Using the format of the Serenity Prayer, I pray:
Grant me the grace to hear the Truth wherever I encounter it; the courage to walk daily in patient humility as I seek to grow in my understanding of this Truth; and the wisdom to always choose the most loving interpretation of that Truth in all my words, deeds and actions.


Sunday, 16 August 2015

More Art Nouveau

"Art Nouveau Angel", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2015

This is my first attempt in a while now to do a drawing using elements of the style known as "Art Nouveau".  I came across a black and white drawing of this angel and thought to myself how much fun it would be to make my own drawing like it only in colour.  I actually thought about just printing a copy of the image and then colouring it as you would a drawing in a colouring book, but holding coloured pencils or crayons is now more painful for me than using the computer mouse and drawing on the computer screen!

Anyway, you can see the results above.  As usual, I couldn't stay away from the orange-reds and yellows of which I'm so fond thus the finished drawing is quite a bit more colour intensive than the usual Art Nouveau designs. 

In case you don't recall what I said about Art Nouveau the last time I mentioned it, here is just a bit of information about this art form -- an art form that has always appealed to me ever since I first discovered  it as a teenager.

"Nature was one of the fundamental sources of Art Nouveau (or "new style"). The rediscovery of Japanese art in the latter 19th Century led to a new perspective that would wonder at the beauty of a wave, a kimono motif or the curve of a courtesan’s neck. The fluidity of lines, asymmetrical compositions without geometric perspective and delicate shades of colour created a new ornamental vocabulary, freeing itself from many of the “rules” of western art developed over previous centuries.
The languishing and mysterious image of the female became a decorative theme adopted in advertising before appearing in architecture and the decorative arts.
Art Nouveau had two faces: that of a style appropriate to new ways of life (lighting, hygiene, transportation, architecture) and that of a quest to embellish daily life (artists trained in the traditional fine arts devoting themselves to such things as graphic design in advertising, fashion, furniture ).
Art Nouveau spread quickly throughout Europe thanks to photo-illustrated art magazines as well as international exhibitions."  
The above information was taken from an article by Francoise Aubry. 



This is the look I got after accidentally
bumping into Suki's chair while
she was sleeping!  "She Who Must Not
Be Disturbed
" was displeased with me!
Suki, although she continues to be surprisingly well behaved, still manages to amaze and, almost, frighten me at times. This is especially true when it comes to her uncanny ability to tell time!

I have mentioned, on numerous occasions, Suki's skills at finding ways to make me aware of the approaching meal times. Most of the stories I have told concern Suki's ways of waking me in the morning in time for her 6 a.m. feeding.  However, she has her ways of reminding me when it's approaching the time for her lunch, supper and bedtime snack as well.

For example, I am usually on the computer from late morning until noon.  Starting at 11:30, Suki appears at my feet and meows at me in that crazy cat language of hers.  When this fails to move me, she climbs up on the chest next to the computer desk and stares at me. Do you know what it is like to be stared at by a cat?  They don't blink!  After a while it really becomes rather unnerving.

As the hours pass and it approaches her 6 p.m. suppertime, Suki appears -- chattering away in cat language.  By now, well-ensconced in my recliner and not inclined to move, it comes as no surprise to suddenly have a cat leap onto my lap. Unfortunately, this cat then proceeds to pester me by trying to wash my hands with her scratchy tongue. Suki, I'm sure, knows how much I hate the feel of that tongue of hers.  Eventually, this annoying behaviour accomplishes her purpose of getting me out of the chair and into the kitchen.

As the day draws to an end, Suki simply begins to stare at me as the hands of the clock move slowly towards the time for me to get ready for bed.  This is an even more intense type of staring than the staring she does at noontime and, soon, it becomes impossible to ignore.  So, after a short while, I usually give in and start preparing for sleep (which, of course, includes giving Suki a bedtime snack).

This is what I imagine would be the result
if Suki ever had a CT scan.
Recently, though, I have noticed that when I fail to show any indication of getting up to feed her -- I am speaking of morning, noon and night -- Suki has started doing something new.  As the hands on the clock approach the exact time she is to be fed, she starts meowing at me in a most insistent way. I mean, how does she know that the actual time is one minute until noon or one minute before 6 p.m? But these are the exact times when she begins her tirade. It really is rather spooky and a bit unsettling.  I mean, you can't help but think that maybe she can actually tell time! 

Other than these daily interactions with my favourite cat, my routine remains much the same.  My life continues to center around my efforts to manage the pain.  By late afternoon, it always seems to have gotten much worse but I continue to try to find ways to distract myself from it. If I allow myself to focus on it, then it becomes almost too much to handle which leaves me tempted to take a bit more pain medication than is normally prescribed.  I have permission to increase the dosage at such times, but I prefer not to as the more I take now, the more I will have to take in the future to manage the pain.

I do have a medical appointment coming up this week but it is just a routine, follow-up visit. Thankfully, the rest of the time I will be able to stay in my quiet, pleasantly-cool apartment with miz Suki and Joycelyn for company.  



"My Flesh is true Food; My Blood is true Drink", drawing by
Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2015 revision

[My Interpretation of the "Madonna of the Precious Blood" based on the painting by the same name by Italian artist Pompeo Batone (1708-1787); now in the possession of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood and hanging in the St. Gaspar Museum, Albano, Italy.]

... The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever.”  Jn. 6:53-58

For the third Sunday in a row we continue to be confronted by these claims of Christ which appear to our limited human minds to be totally outrageous.  As I have indicated in the two previous blog postings, we read words in this 6th chapter of St. John's Gospel that over 2,000 years later are still impossible for us to even begin to understand in spite of all the commentaries, sermons and meditations that have been written about this passage.  As I have said previously, I would never be so foolish as to try to add anything to the words of these learned scholars; rather, I will, once again, simply sit in silence before such a mystery.  

When confronted by such claims as these there are choices: we can accept that they are true because Christ said them; or, like the Jewish leaders of His day, we can scoff and deride; or, we can simply ignore them by assuming that they have no application to our daily lives in this modern world.

May we be granted the faith to believe, the hope to endure and the love to trust that in spite of all the darkness around us, we have been provided with the wisdom that will enable us to finally walk freely out of the shadows of this life into the full light of Truth. 


Sunday, 9 August 2015

Wurmbea stricta -- Rice Flower

"Wurmbea stricta -- Rice Flower", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2015

Wurmbea stricta is another one of those little-known flowers from South Africa. Identified in the past as Onixotis stricta, Onixotis triquetra and Dipidax triquetra, botanists have finally decided that its correct designation is Wurmbea stricta.  This plant is a member of the Family, Colchicaceae (of the order, Liliales [Lilies], this family includes some two hundred species of herbaceous perennials with rhizomes or corms).

It has spikes of pale, purple-pink to white flowers with reddish-purple centers. The foliage is about 10-12” tall and rush-like, which seems appropriate since this plant prefers bog-like areas.  The species distribution is the western reaches of the Western Cape and northwards into Namaqualand (an arid region of Namibia and South Africa) even though the probability of finding suitable conditions for this water-loving plant must be low. It also grows on the eastern coast west of Port Elizabeth, South Africa. 

Wurmbea stricta is commonly known as Rice Flower, Spike Lily or Water Phlox. In Afrikaans, it is called Rysblommetjie which means “little rice flower”. The genus name of Wurmbea comes from Friedrick Wilhelm von Wurmb, a merchant and botanist in 18th century Batavia (Jakarta, Indonesia). I assume that he must have been the first to describe this plant in the literature.  Stricta is from the Latin and means “erect, upright” referring to the flower spikes and the erect, dark-green leaves which have been described as looking like knitting needles. This plant is sought out by bees, butterflies and some birds.

The flowers of Wurmbea stricta, I believe, are not that large, but as is the case with Nature, even the smallest things are beautifully and intricately designed.

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


Another very quiet week for both of us. Monday, of course, was a holiday in most areas of Canada which made things even quieter since neither Suki nor I did anything special ... it was just another day for us. There were no special visitors during the week -- just the usual visits of Joycelyn and Sharon.  As well, there were no appointments of any kind.  

There were a few phone calls from friends, but most of the phone calls were computer- generated calls from the campaign offices of politicians trying to get me to vote for them in the upcoming elections in October.  I really do hate those calls as I know that my slamming down the telephone receiver has no effect whatsoever on a computer!  Occasionally I get a real, live person calling to tell me about the wonders of their particular politician. When this happens, I stop them mid-spiel and tell them that they are wasting their time as I have never become a Canadian citizen and, therefore, am not able to vote in Canada.  Usually this ends the conversation abruptly; however, sometimes they reply by saying something like: "well, wouldn't you like to tell your friends and neighbours to vote for so-and-so?"  To which I always respond:  "piffle" or something a bit more explicit before replacing the receiver with a loud bang. 

As you no doubt have noticed, I am not providing you with any special stories about Suki for the second week in a row. This is due to the fact that she continues to be reasonably well behaved! I must say that I am still feeling a bit uneasy about her "good" behaviour; however, I keep telling myself that I should just relax and enjoy it for as long as it lasts.

Instead of a Suki story let me tell you about an email conversation I had this past week. A friend of mine was asking me about how I make decisions about identifying people in some of the photos I publish on my blog.  For example, I sometimes only give initials or a first name when identifying the person in a photo or the person who took a particular photo.  On the other hand, I sometimes provide the full names of people along with other identifying information. I thought some of you might be interested to read my response:
I make it a rule to never show photos of people or give their full names unless I am certain that they are willing to be identified and exposed that way. In spite of today’s trend of “selfies” and posting of personal photos all over the place on Facebook, I tend to be very cautious about such matters as I know about too many cases of problems and even crimes that have resulted from such exposure. Any photos you see posted on my blog these days, along with any information that would enable others to identify them, are there with the express permission of the person who took them and/or of the person photographed.
In the case of people who have already chosen to let themselves be identified in the various social media, I give only that information that I know if easily available online. For example, I don’t have to be too concerned when identifying someone like my friend, Rose Marie, who has often had her photo and identity made public due to her participation in art shows and various teaching jobs at art camps, etc. This is not the case with many of my other friends and acquaintances. While they have posted photos of themselves on Facebook, they have used privacy settings so that, hopefully, only their Facebook friends can see their private information.
Of course, most of us realize now that the Internet, for all its advantages, can be a dangerous place. Whatever you post on it can be seen by all sorts of people – many of whom you might not wish to see how you look, know your full name or where you live. I have made a choice to be a “public person” and I am fully aware that this involves a certain amount of risk. So much crime is happening on the Internet these days, especially hacking into other people’s web sites and email accounts, that people really need to learn to never post anything that they would mind anyone seeing or reading. If you want to keep something private, don’t write it in an email, post it on Facebook or publish it on your blog or web site!



"Icon -- Mother of the Bread of Life", by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, Rev. 2015

Jesus answered and said to them, “Stop murmuring among yourselves. No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him, and I will raise him on the last day. It is written in the prophets: They shall all be taught by God. Everyone who listens to my Father and learns from him comes to me. Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God; he has seen the Father. Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died; this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”   Jn. 6:44-51

The passage from last Sunday continues with Christ reiterating, even more firmly, the things He has already said.  He speaks words that over 2,000 years later are still impossible for us to really understand in spite of all the commentaries, sermons and meditations that have been written about this chapter in St. John's Gospel.  I certainly would not be so foolish as to try to add anything to these learned comments; rather, I will simply sit in silence before such incredible words and ask Our Lady for wisdom and understanding while repeating those ancient words of the Archangel and St. Elizabeth:

"Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee... blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb..." Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us...


Sunday, 2 August 2015

Summer Days

"Enjoying a Summer's Evening", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2015

Today's featured drawing was inspired by a work of the American artist, Frank W. Benson (1862-1951), entitled :  "My Daughter Elisabeth" (1914, oil on canvas).
"Herons and Lilies" by F. W. Benson

Benson was an American artist from Salem, Massachusetts known for his portraits in the Realistic style, his Impressionist-style paintings (both oils and watercolors) and etchings. He began his career painting portraits of distinguished families and murals for the Library of Congress. Some of his best known paintings depict his daughters outdoors at Benson's summer home on the island of North Haven, Maine. The painting of his daughter, Elisabeth, which I used as my model is one of these. He also produced numerous paintings and etchings of wildfowl and landscapes (see oil on canvas above).   
As is often the case these days, I was drawn to Benson's painting of his daughter, Elisabeth, because of the position of the arms and hands.  Of course, as usual, I remain totally dissatisfied with the results!  So, I will have to consider this drawing simply a first draft and keep working on it in an effort to get those hands and arms placed and proportioned as they should be! 

I'm not complaining as I doubt that I will ever get them exactly as I want them to be.  No matter how good we are at whatever we do, perfection is not likely to be achieved this side of the grave -- if even then!

Information about Benson was taken from Wikipedia


"Well, I'm waiting -- either entertain me or feed me!"
Suki has been unusually well behaved this past week -- which has begun to make me rather nervous!

I mean, you would think that I would be pleased with her good behaviour; however, in the past when a spell of good behaviour has occurred, it has always been followed by the revelation of some outrageously clever, new skill.  I am not speaking of clever in the sense of a cat doing tricks like standing on her head -- no, I am speaking of ingenuously crafted techniques which will enable her to perhaps achieve her major goal:  getting me to feed her more often by waking me up earlier!

I mean, when she first started trying to get me out of bed in the morning, she would just try things like climbing on my pillow and purring loudly in my ear.  When this didn't work -- mainly because I could easily pick her up and dump her on the floor -- she gradually began to develop her repertoire which now includes the many skills I have mentioned in the past such as Venetian blind rattling, bell ringing, claws scratching on the glass windows, etc.

If I should happen to miss posting on my blog next Sunday, please contact the authorities as it may mean that I have ended up chained to the kitchen counter where the cat food is kept!  I'm sure the chain will be long enough for me to be able to put her food dish down on the floor, but too short to enable me to reach the telephone and call for help! 
Other than being a bit nervous about what Suki may do next, I am doing much the same.  I did have a bit of good news as I found out this past week that the infection which has troubled me for over two months now has finally been beaten by the 4th round of antibiotics!  Hooray for that.

Rose Marie Nicolucci, artist and friend
(photo taken by J. Gordon)
I did hear from one of the readers of my blog (who is also a dear friend) that she, her husband and a friend of theirs made a visit, yesterday, to the art show I was telling you about in last week's posting.  The one where my friend, Rose Marie Nicolucci, has some of her watercolours on display.  My friend sent me a photo of Rose Marie taken at the gallery. Not only did it give me great pleasure to see the photo, but I was truly delighted to know that my recommendation for a nice outing was taken seriously by a reader. Remember, if you are interested, Rose Marie and the other artists will have their work on display there until the 12th of August (see last Sunday's posting for all the other details).



"Icon -- I Am The Bread of Life", by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2015 revision

...... So Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave the bread from heaven; my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” So they said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.” Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.”  Jn 6:32-35

What can I possibly say when confronted by such a Mystery.

May we all experience that peace flowing from the gift of faith -- faith is that inner surety enabling us to believe that there is more to this life than our mortal minds can ever comprehend.  May we always remember that at the end all that remains are the "great three": faith, hope and love and may we never forget that the greatest of these is love.