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.


FRANK THAYER

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.  




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BRADEN AND RÒNÀN 


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






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SUKI AND SALLIE



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!




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TWENTY-SECOND SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME



"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."

Amen.

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